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78% of Sales Are Lost Before You Make The Call!

Author: Bob Oros   |   September 25th, 2009

Seventy-eight percent of all sales people fail because they lack what skill? When asking that question to a group of sales people the answers are all over the board. Closing usually comes out as number one, objections are number two, after that it’s a toss up between making presentations, getting people’s attention, follow up and asking questions.

The reason 78% of all sales people fail, or fail to reach their sales objective is due to a lack of planning. At first this may seem a little off balance, however when we take a look at what planning really is, it takes on a new meaning.

For example, let’s take a look at closing. The best time to think about your close is when you are planning the call. Instead of taking in one product to show your customer, take in three different quality levels. Instead of asking if they want to buy your product or not, you can now ask them which product would best fit their needs. That is the choice close at its best.

Objections are another example. If we wait until we are in the buyer’s office and he or she says “your price is out of line” it’s a little late to start figuring out what to say. We all know the objections we run into, and again, the best time to overcome them is when we are planning the call.

Let’s take a look at making the presentation. There are very few products on the market today that cannot be duplicated, turning them into a commodity. Why should a buyer switch to your product when the features and benefits are the same? Once again the time to find the “points of difference” that will make a persuasive presentation is during your planning stages.

How about getting the customer’s attention? The average business owner is interrupted every eight minutes. If they have been buying for any length of time they have “heard it all.” What are you going to do or say during the first 60 seconds that will make the buyer lean forward and say “tell me more?” If you are trying to think of something while waiting your turn to see the buyer, well, you get the point.

The old days of “hitting the street and making some calls” are pretty much in the past. Twenty years ago there was believed to be such a thing as a “Born Sales Person.” Today we have to sell with “surgical precision.”

I am sure you would not like to have open heart surgery by a “born doctor” who understands the concept of open heart surgery but does not take the time to plan every detail of the procedure?

How would you feel about getting on an airline flight with a “born pilot” who understood the theory of flight but never took the time to file a flight plan.

How would you feel about eating in a restaurant run by a “born cook” who never had any training in food safety and never took the time to follow up on the cleaning details.

Most importantly, when you are buying something, how do you feel about buying from sales people who take up an hour of your time without having a well-prepared plan and presentation for the appointment? These unprepared appointments are usually justified as having “advertising value,” or building a “relationship.” However, today’s profit and loss statements are viewed from the “bottom line up.” The bottom line of selling is to measure your call results with your call expectations. And call expectations are “planned” in advance.

The difference between an average sales person and a real sales pro is only a small difference. If a certain sales person is selling twice as much as another sales person, it doesn’t mean the one producing more results is twice as good as the other. The difference may be only a few minor things that may even seem insignificant, like making a detailed plan for each call.

The bottom line of planning is simple; spend at least four hours on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning going through each call you are going to make next week.

Here is what some of the experts have to say about planning:

“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning”
Winston Churchill

“If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I would spend four hours sharpening my ax.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point in the future.”
General George Patton Jr

“In war nothing is achieved except by calculation.  Everything that is not soundly planned in its details yields no result.”
Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor


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