The lost art of call planning

Call PlanningAfter many years of sitting in on sales calls and even more providing feedback to salespeople in sales simulations, we’ve noticed there definitely is variability in the amount and quality of pre-call planning.

Pre-call planning improves when someone else is on the call, like a sales manager, colleague, or even a consultant along as an observer. But the boost doesn’t last. Too often it’s replaced by the amount of time salespeople have in their car prior to the call or the time it takes to drink a latte at Starbucks.

This story has been told thousands of time. No need to rehash it here. What’s more interesting is talking about a frequently missing ingredient in pre-call planning – even when pre-call planning does happen. Salespeople usually identify what they want to say and what questions they want to ask, but they stop there. They omit considering want to propose as the next step to move the sales cycle forward.  As many sales managers have told us – every salesperson should close for a commitment that moves the sales cycle forward on every call.

When giving feedback in sales simulations we often share with sales reps and managers that the sales person should plan multiple advances. Why? If the call doesn’t go as well as planned, they can close the call with something less aggressive that moves the sale along. On the other end of the spectrum, what if the call goes better than anticipated? If they haven’t thought about a more aggressive advance – how will they close the call?  Too often the result is a missed opportunity.  The best planned and executed sales call that doesn’t end with moving the sales cycle don’t lead to generating revenue!

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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2 Responses to The lost art of call planning

  1. Thanks for reminding us about the importance of call planning, Richard. I think most of your readers are probably guilty of this. I don’t even know if coaches include this in training the team – that one should anticipate multiple call advances and scenarios and plan and practice on how to deal with them. A winner always comes prepared with a plan and can execute best. Same principle with sales.

  2. “Salespeople usually identify what they want to say and what questions they want to ask, but they stop there. They omit considering what to propose as the next step to move the sales cycle forward. As many sales managers have told us – every salesperson should close for a commitment that moves the sales cycle forward on every call.”

    Call planning is such an important part of the sales process that it certainly shouldn’t be glossed over! Planning can help the sales rep understand what needs to be said. This is important especially at the end when the sales rep needs to make sure the prospect commits to the sales process.

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