>Once you have set the appointment with your prospect, your first step is due diligence. Now understand this requires time and effort, and because of this it is often a step your fellow sales people ignore.

Why is preparation so important? Because it sets the tone for the call and shows the prospect you care and your value their time. You made an effort to ensure this time they are giving you is time well spent. If your goals are to make more quality instead of quantity calls, gain more referrals and ultimately turn your prospects into clients than preparing for sales calls is a must do part of the process. In a strong economy and a weak competitive environment sales people are more apt to get away with lack of or preparation for a sales call. In an economy that is consistently changing and highly competitive preparation and planning are important steps.

Doing your due diligence. This simply means – do your homework. Spend a little time researching and finding out about the company, your prospect, their role in the company. My favorite place to start is google! The Internet has made the job of due diligence so much easier. Simply enter a few key words into a search engine, and up pops your prospects website, articles written about them, reviews on their company, and interesting information about their competition. Within just a few moments you can find out things like how many employees they have, how long they have been in business, who they do business with, what their goals are, what their financial results have been, who else they do business with, the position your prospects holds in the company etc. The list goes on. The Internet is a wealth of information and with a little time invested you can easily get the background you need to put together an effective sales plan.

Once you have done the “technical research,” it is time to find out the “personality research” of both the company and your prospect. What is “personality research” that is the information you need to make an emotional connection with your prospect. Why would you want to know that? Remember, buying is emotional, and if you are going to turn your prospects into customers you have to connect on an emotional level. So how do you do this? You start by simply asking around. Talk with vendors, clients, people you know that may know or do business with your prospect. Find out things like – what their personality style is, how they like to be communicated with (i.e. are they email people, phone people, go to lunch people or quick office meeting people), what do they do in their spare time, how do they make decisions – quickly or slowly. Do they require a lot of information or do they like to get right to the point. Anything significant going on in their life you should know about. And again the list goes on. Finding out those key relevant things that will help you truly connect with your prospect are invaluable in your efforts to turn your prospects into customers.

Let me share a great example of a calling officer who failed to do this. Oh, she did a wonderful job of doing the technical research, but she missed a golden opportunity by ignoring the personality research. I actually made for her, she is a friend of mine and she wanted to meet and do business with this particular business owner. As I knew him pretty well, I offered to introduce the two of them. She followed up and set up the call, and found he was actually in need of her services. All appeared like it would go well.

A few days later, I called to see how things were going with the two of them. My friend thought the call went great, she asked good questions, identified a need and was working on a proposal. When I spoke with him, I found out he felt quite differently. See, he had just made a decision to run for political office. This was a difficult decision for him, and the topic remained top of mind. It had been on the news, in all the papers and was an important topic for him. She never mentioned it, and never even asked about his life outside of the business. He interpreted that – right or wrong – that she was uniformed and uninterested in him personally. Needless to say she never got the business. Not because she was not qualified, but because she did not do her due diligence.

If you want to turn your prospects into customers, you must take the time to invest in finding out as much as you can about them before you make the call. This shows you care, are interested and respect them enough to ensure time spent with you is of value for them. Invest this time and you will turn your prospects into customers.