Finally–a Sales Pre-call Checklist That Will Help Your Opportunities Soar!

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“You’re cleared for takeoff.” By the time a pilot hears that, you can bet that a pre-flight safety checklist or two has been performed. One-to-one symmetry between takeoffs and landings is all I ask. If the plane arrives on time carrying both pieces of my checked luggage, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

But what if pilots focused pre-flight checklists on other things—like whether each seat has a functional entertainment system, and tallying how many paper napkins are stowed in first class? Let’s just say that your flight to San Francisco might unexpectedly arrive in San Diego—on one engine, and three blown tires. And that would be on a good day. At least you would have enough napkins to mop up whatever spilled from your bloody mary.

Checklists reduce risks by ensuring consistency and thoroughness in completing routine tasks. We depend on them because we don’t remember everything, and we are prone to distractions. But when they don’t encompass key success factors, they’re ineffective. Sometimes, checklists can even backfire.

Here’s a shining example, summarized from a sales pre-call checklist I read online this week:

1. What is the prospect’s current situation?
2. What are my business development goals for this client or prospective client?
3. What is my desired next outcome?
4. What are my relative strengths?
5. What are my relative vulnerabilities?
6. What actions do I need to take before the next call?

What’s missing? Well, for one, anything that addresses the prospect’s needs, wants, desires, objectives, and goals. And that creates huge risks. A salesperson who walks into a meeting not knowing his or her prospect’s immediate requirements isn’t prepared. “Wing flaps? Oh . . . no worries! We’ll check those out as we’re taking off.”

Business developers can reduce the possibility of failure by using more client-oriented checklists that focus on learning, and above all, that ensure a prospect’s needs and objectives will be met.

Here’s an example. Each item can be answered with yes, no, or not sure:

1. I know the outcome or result my prospect is seeking from this meeting. If you don’t have a clue, you’re already in trouble.

2. I am bringing knowledge and resources that my prospect is likely to value. If you don’t share anything useful or valuable, you probably won’t be invited back. It doesn’t matter how good your questions were, or how much time you spent listening.

3. I know what needs to be learned. Both for you, and your prospect. Ensures that you are prepared to ask the right questions, and that you don’t waste time throwing conversational spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

4. I have situational awareness. Not the same as knowing everything you can about your prospect. This item ensures you understand the context for the meeting, and that you can adapt to the situation.

5. I have visualized the successful outcomes for this opportunity—for my prospect and for me. Visualizing a successful result ensures that you take the right actions to achieve it. Ask an Olympic gymnast.

6. I have planned for what to do in the event something doesn’t follow the expected path. You can’t plan for every contingency, but every checklist must consider what could go wrong—the demo that doesn’t work, or the question that you don’t know how to answer.

7. I am 100% mentally present. “I’m so sorry . . . Could you excuse me for just a minute—I have to answer this call . . .”

Whether your sales activity involves meeting with a prospect for the first time, or with a customer to resolve a service issue, this checklist will increase the probability that you don’t crash, and that you reach the right destination.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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