Everyone has heard the expression if you fail to plan you plan to fail, but let’s be honest, that isn’t enough motivation for everyone to do pre-call planning. Many sales reps still fall into the trap of grabbing their materials before walking into an office with the belief that they know everything well enough to improvise. That may have worked to an extent in the past, but today, more than ever it’s a risky choice to make.
In this blog post we’ll look at 5 reasons why pre-call planning has value and is worth doing:
1. Focus: Life keeps us busy and we have a lot on our minds. At any given moment we can be focused on anything from family, to finances, to the traffic on the road. Taking the time to pre-call plan allows you to focus on the job directly in front of you. You are able to clear your mind of the distractions of the day (at least for the moment) and focus on what it takes to be successful in your next call.
2. Face time: No, not the kind on your iPhone, but the kind you get with HCPs. It’s limited and very valuable. You work hard to get that face time and the last thing you want to do is waste it. Walk in unprepared or without the information you need to share with the HCP and you may have a long wait before you can get face-to-face with them again. Pre-call planning can prevent that missed opportunity.
3. Fluency: Being able to speak fluently on key topics of interest to an HCP adds to your credibility. When you try to “wing it” and discuss something you are unprepared to talk about, you lose the ability to communicate with ease and confidence. Pre-call planning and reviewing the appropriate materials before the call enables you to speak effectively and intelligently with the HCP.
4. Forward movement: Stagnation is a synonym for unproductivity. Your goal is to keep your calls moving forward along a sales continuum and not have them stall or get stuck in one place. Pre-call planning, when done regularly and implemented effectively, can help you keep forward movement in your calls with HCPs.
5. Flexibility: The best-laid plans of “salesmen” oft go awry. Ok –that’s not quite the way the quote goes, but it's close, and the sentiment is true. Sometimes, despite all your planning, things don’t go the way you want or expect them to and you have to change direction in a call. When you’ve taken the time to look at the HCP’s profile and your materials and do pre-call planning, you are better prepared to handle these detours.
Pre-call planning takes time, but it is time that pays off in terms of call effectiveness. Be sure to reinforce pre-call planning in your upcoming trainings. Don’t just have participants jump into a role-play or simulation; why reinforce what we tell them NOT to do in the field? Instead, have them plan the call first and then verbalize it.