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Andy Rich | BizDev3.0 | Philadelphia, PA

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Let’s face it. Hurried salespeople sometimes fail to prepare effectively for a scheduled interaction with a buyer. They are likely to “wing it,” each in their own unique, impossible-to-predict way. Any sales leader who’s been around for more than a few weeks has seen this (potentially expensive) tendency play out. You may not realize it, but your team’s CRM can help you to overcome the “winging it” problem, standardize your team’s sales process, speed up sales cycles, improve close ratios, and increase revenue.

To understand how those positive outcomes can happen, we should look closely at the specifics of the problem we’re aiming to solve. Salespeople in a rush have been known to avoid any meaningful pre-call research, choosing to rely instead on “experience.” Built into that one deceptively reassuring word “experience” are the unsupportable assumptions that a) the salesperson already knows the entire cast of characters and b) the salesperson has already heard everything that could be said by a buyer. This is a particularly dangerous pair of assumptions in situations where there are multiple influencers on the purchasing decision.

In pursuing such opportunities, a salesperson may rush to schedule a meeting without identifying a plausible goal for the meeting, without briefing the other attendees, and without getting the right people to attend the meeting—including buying influencers, decision-makers, or other supporting team members. In addition to this, the salesperson may not plan out any questioning strategy worthy of the name. “Experience” is meant to address all these potential potholes. Sometimes salespeople who are too busy to plan manage to drive around the potholes. Sometimes they don’t. This all-too-common failure to set an agenda and align expectations about what will actually happen in the meeting is often paired with a failure to confirm the meeting, or to provide documents and resources both sides need to prepare.

So here is the challenge: Meeting without a clear purpose, simply in the hopes of “building the relationship,” makes it challenging to identify what the ideal next steps would be for the outcome of the conversation. And once the meeting has been scheduled, technical challenges or other delays in getting the meeting started on time can come across as unprofessional. By the end of the meeting, there is often inadequate time to discuss next steps or the decisions to be made at the end of the meeting.

Preparing a basic pre-call checklist for every meeting will ensure your sales team avoids these common pitfalls. You can use a pre-call planner, such as this one from Sandler, to ensure that your team has done the appropriate research, collected the necessary background information, strategized for the call, and communicated all pertinent information to both the buyers and the other members of your team. Better still, that planner can be built right into your team’s CRM!

A modern CRM like HubSpot contains a Playbooks feature. This feature provides a series of automated questions that prompt the salesperson regarding the most appropriate questions and information required for a successful call. With the Playbooks tool, you can provide guidance with interactive content cards displayed in contact, company, deal, and ticket records for your team members. They can use Playbooks to reference and create standardized notes when speaking to prospects and customers. And you can ensure that the right questions get answered, and the right boxes get checked, before the opportunity moves forward in your cycle. In short: No more “winging it”!

To learn more about the Playbooks feature, check out this video.

To access a complimentary video lesson from HubSpot and Sandler, SELLING IN A HYBRID WORLD, and learn what it takes to move your current sales process into a hybrid model,click here.

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