Planning Sales Conversations


When we think about sales planning, we think of things like sales strategy, account plans and territory plans.

And so you should.  They're essential components to improving sales performance and reaching targets.

There is another aspect to good sales planning though: your conversation or meeting plan.

This alone sharpens your sales game so much that it becomes truly next level.

But before I share with you the 5 steps to mapping it out, let's explore why this matters and why you should consider adding it to your own sales game.

When we approach sales growth by starting from a macro level, we identify the prospects we want to target, and begin to explore how to grow the value we bring to our current clients based on future potential.  To do this, we should be using an account planning tool to provide some validation that we're not leaving value on the table, and to ensure we understand the need way before we are tempted to propose a solution.

Part of that is to plan our conversations so they build this insight progressively, and the key is to have result driven conversations.  To be effective, you need to take a step back and examine what you already know, who you're meeting with, what you want to achieve by the end of that conversation and how you will structure the conversation in order to achieve that result.

Here are 5 elements to consider when planning your next conversation with a client or prospect:

  1. What do you already know?
    What conversations have you already had, what services have already been delivered, what do you already know about the client and their situation? Why are you meeting?

  2. What result do you want to achieve from the meeting or conversation?
    By the end of the meeting, what do you want to walk away knowing, being able to do or feeling? What do you want the client or prospect to know, do or feel? How will you know you've achieved that?

  3. Who are you meeting with?
    Besides the basics like their name and role, what else do you know about them? What are they like? What are deal breakers? What drives them? What motivates them?

  4. What are the key messages you want to convey?

  5. And finally, what structure will get you the result you've identified to the audience? If you could set an agenda for the conversation, what would it look like? What questions will help you achieve your result?

Now, while not all conversations go to plan, knowing the intended result will help you to steer the conversation back to a direction that will help you walk away knowing you've progressed the conversation in a way that brings you both closer to a better business relationship.

Tips from John Buchanan, Beyond 19, Coaching Practicing Lead:

1. The best result from any one-on-one conversation is win-win. Make sure this is your number one objective.
2. Where possible, ensure that you choose the best time, the best location, the best setting for your conversation.
3. Have the conversation on 'their turf' when this is practical.

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