Professional consultative sales people know that they must prepare well for every client meeting in order to maximise their sales performance. An effective sales plan can be developed using the following headings:
Name: Don’t just write down the name and address of the client company, but also include the names of the people you will talk to, their positions and areas of responsibility, departments and the date of the discussion.
Goals: Work out definite ideas about the type and extent of the sales you want to make, details of agreements, messages for the customer and information you want to collect. All effective planning needs to start with the end in mind.
Strategy: Make a note of the topics to be discussed, the sequence they should take, the introduction and conclusion, the framework, the possible inclusion of third parties and scope for concessions.
Tactics: Here you make a note of how you are going to deal with this customer. You might make a note of important phrases to use, use of demonstrations, presentation methods and planned closing techniques.
Arguments: Divide the available sales arguments you will use to persuade this customer into essential and reserve arguments. Lay down the sequence of arguments. Also write down any arguments which should not be mentioned.
Objections: List possible objections you might get from the customer, or reasons for resistance. Then work through these identifying suitable measures to overcome them.
Proofs: References, certificates, pictures, experts’ reports, newspaper articles, statistics etc. can all be used as proof. Identify which ones you will have to hand. Also decide when you will use them in your presentation, and if you need copies for the customer.
Ideas: Record all ideas you have to improve and expand cooperation with this customer, any innovations or changes.
Observations: Note any necessary criticisms of customer’s behaviour you may need to raise with them, and think of tactful ways to raise this. Do you have any constructive suggestions and offers of assistance to make them aware of?
Developing a sales plan using these headings forces you to think through all the necessary aspects of the upcoming sales discussion in advance. Remember: good preparation and planning prevents poor sales performance!