Planning Continuum

It always amazes me how little attention, time, and effort people spend on planning. And I’m not talking about life goals—though I feel that is a valuable endeavor. I’m referring to how to define and set goals daily, for every sales interaction.

This thought was triggered by a recent conversation I had with a sales leader who spent time in the field to gain an understanding of how the reps are conducting their sales calls. He said that from what he observed, many reps could increase their sales results if they spent time planning what they want to accomplish on the next call. I guess many don’t see the sales calls as a continuum, but just individual episodes.

That conversation with its reference to episodes made me think about television. When I was growing up, each television show was a stand-alone episode. If the main character got injured in one show, he was all healed in the next with no reference to any aches and pains. Television has gotten more sophisticated and usually each episode builds on the last, creating anticipation and drawing in viewers who don’t want to miss a show because they may lose an important plot development.

This analogy could work well for those sales reps who see each customer interaction as nothing more than a stand-alone individual sales call. Upon leaving each encounter/meeting, the sales rep should take notes and begin to plan what they will do next, to build upon what was discussed. What did you learn? What features where discussed that seemed to interest the customer?

You could also borrow another idea from those television shows—capturing interest. There are ways to share information that can be boring or exciting. Planning what words to say can make a big difference into how well your customer listens. Words Matter! So take time to choose words that will resonate with your customers and capture their interest so they want to listen to you.

It seems to makes sense to view your sales interactions as just one meeting along a continuum—where you are working towards achieving your goal of selling your product, one interaction at a time. So borrow some ideas from those TV episodes…develop interest and build on what you accomplished/discussed during the previous call. All it takes is some planning.

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