This post is part of the Alchemy-Spetec Contractor Lens series, featuring views, news & case studies written by our customers. This sales article, written by J.R. Crowell of Helms Polyfoam, emphasizes the general importance of having a plan of some kind in place before calling on a prospect. If you're an Alchemy-Spetec customer and you'd like to discuss writing content for our blog, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org today!
I’ve not been formally trained in chess - but from what I’ve gathered in my limited time at the board, chess is very much a strategic game that requires a forward-thinking mindset. Each move could draw a certain action from the opponent and with each move, you the player need to be seeing five steps ahead. You need to have a follow-up play for each play your opponent could make and you need to be able to see the possible outcomes of all of those. That’s a lot of possible scenarios. Selling is no different.
Prior to walking through any door to visit any potential client (I’m assuming a cold call here), you need to have a clear reason for your visit and a clear outcome you intend to achieve with each visit. I once had a coworker who constantly said, “hope is not a plan”. How true is that? Walking in with only hope sounds like this; “I just wanted to come by and introduce myself as the rep for ABC Company…” You’re probably going to get a sideways shrug, maybe a “nice to meet you”, and a “see you later” shortly thereafter. Your actual intentions were to probably find the correct point of contact to discuss the needs of that business as they relate to your product or solution. At least that should have been your goal.
Don’t disguise your intentions with some backhanded intro because you think it eases the tension. Whomever you spoke to first is a professional at their role. They have duties just like you do. They are human and most humans want to be spoken to directly. They also subconsciously assume you are a professional in your field and assume that you know how to ask for what you want. As salespeople, we are typically natural leaders. It is our job to lead every discussion we have. That doesn’t always mean we lead by talking so don’t take that as an open invitation to dominate a conversation.
How does this tie into chess and foreseeing possible outcomes? If all you have prepared is the “make an introduction comment”, what are you supposed to follow up with? Lack of preparation makes it difficult to get to where you really want to go. Once you've made an introduction without thinking through your follow up options, then you’ve done what you said you wanted to do, so you may as well say goodbye to a response with any meat on the bone…
You need to go in with a clear understanding of what you expect to get out of that call as it pertains to helping that customer solve a problem and growing your customer base. You need to be prepared for several possible outcomes, including but not limited to getting that two minutes with the decision-maker. Be confident, be prepared, be a leader, be an expert. Your customer expects and deserves that much.