It’s been said that salespeople don’t plan to fail; they simply fail to plan. How much time do you currently spend preparing for your client appointments? If you’re honest with yourself, the answer is probably not enough.

In my opinion, the single most common characteristic shared among all successful salespeople is the value they place on pre-appointment preparation, research and planning. I believe when W.D. Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, he selected “Be Prepared” as the organization’s motto because he understood preparation is the key to unlock the door of opportunity.

Being prepared for an appointment gives the salesperson a major competitive edge and boosts his or her self-confidence, credibility and professional image. Prospects are truly impressed when they meet with a salesperson who has taken the time to customize his or her presentation. Two thousand years ago, the Roman philosopher Seneca remarked, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Here are some time-proven suggestions to help you prepare a customized presentation the next time you get the opportunity to meet with a prospect:

  1. The Internet makes it easy to conduct research. Review your prospect’s website to familiarize yourself with his or her products and services.
  2. Read the company’s mission/vision statements to gain an understanding of the organization’s core values.
  3. Check out the most recent press releases to enhance your understanding of current events and initiatives within the company.
  4. Research the latest trends and products within your prospect’s industry, so you are able to address any specific concerns in detail.
  5. Be prepared to counter claims about your competitors’ products and prices. Be ready to respond to common sales objections, such as, “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.” Or, “It costs too much.” Or, “I want to think about it and get back to you.”
  6. Have copies of your client testimonials ready to hand to your prospect. The most powerful testimonials are from clients within your prospect’s industry.
  7. Make it easy to do business with you. If appropriate, have applications available to close the sale.
  8. Be prepared to ask for referrals.

I’ve never met a salesperson who admitted to losing a sale because he or she spent too much time preparing for the appointment. The 20 minutes or so you invest in researching your prospect’s company, products and services is a smart business decision that yields huge dividends during your appointment.

If you want to improve your professional image, build rapport with your prospect, and dramatically increase your sales effectiveness, I suggest you take a tip from the Boy Scouts and always “Be Prepared.”

“It’s better to be prepared and not have an opportunity than it is to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” — Les Brown

John Boe presents a wide variety of motivational and sales-oriented keynotes and seminar programs for sales meetings and conventions. Boe is a nationally recognized sales trainer and business motivational speaker with an impeccable track record in the meeting industry. To have Boe speak at your next event, visit www.johnboe.com or call (937) 299-9001.

More prospecting articles by John Boe.