A salesperson can control who they call on and what they say during the call. Best practice is that every salesperson spends as much time preparing for a call as deciding on ‘who’ to call. However, according to most sales managers, very few of these calls are planned. Salespeople have a general idea of what they would like to achieve during a call. Most do not document this and many report after a call that they did not accomplish what they wanted during the call. According to Sales Effectiveness Inc. research, 64% of all sales calls are ineffective.
Preparing in advance for every call goes a long way to helping you prepare for the upcoming negotiation. During each sales call you need to be uncovering new information, confirming what you know, emphasizing your differentiated value, testing new ideas – all along the way building your credibility and maximizing your value to the customer.
A great way to build your credibility is by analyzing the deal from the viewpoint that there will NOT be a deal. This is the Consequence of No Agreement (CNA) analysis. This concept might go against the advice you received when you first started your sales career, but times have changed. Taking this point of view reveals invaluable information for you and helps you to build your credibility.
Consider what happens to the customer if they do not do a deal with you. Identify all the impacts the customer would likely experience if they do not do a deal with you. Now use this analysis for a carefully planned discussion with the customer to help you understand your real competitor - which is your customer's preferred alternative if they do not do a deal with you.
Once you have verified this information with your mentor, partner, key customer contacts (or all of these) and it is clear who or what your real competitor is, you will have insight into the customer’s decision criteria. This is because the impacts you identified and verified with your customer are the true customer decision criteria.
A further discussion then needs be planned to prioritize customer decision criteria, asking the customer to add any missing decision criteria or remove criteria.
Each of these calls gives the salesperson opportunities to progress the sale and to deepen relationships, building credibility – ultimately making it harder for the customer to say ‘no’ when you are ready to negotiate.