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All too frequently, salespeople schedule appointments…and then forget about them until the day before the scheduled dates. Do you? Is preparation a last-minute activity often consisting of nothing more than a quick review of the notes from the original phone conversations when the appointments were scheduled…and perhaps a review of the prospects’ websites, advertising, or marketing materials?

Can you answer the following questions about your next prospect appointment?

Recently, you probably invested a lot of time and energy putting together a presentation of your product or service. You crafted your presentation, dotted all the “i”s, crossed all the “t”s, covered all the bases, and answered all of the prospect’s questions. But, instead of a buying decision, you only received a stall, a put-off, or a request for some concession. At whom do you point the finger of blame?

Everyone knows someone. Actually, everyone knows several someone’s. Your customers – as well as the prospects you call on – have some contact with, or at the very least know of, people who can benefit from your product or service. Unfortunately, they are not programmed to automatically disclose the names of those people to you. That doesn’t mean that they won’t; you must initiate the action.

Salespeople invest time developing their pitch, formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.

A mistake too many salespeople make is not keeping in touch with former clients. It’s not uncommon for past clients to come to a point where they need your product or service again but don’t remember how to get in touch with you. They are more likely to have your competitors’ information handy.

(Your competitors are still calling on your client even though you are not).

Ask salespeople to list their least favorite selling activities, and you can count on “prospecting” being at the top of the list. And, the least favorite of all prospecting activities is unquestionably making cold calls.

I saw this question posted this week on a discussion group populated by “sales experts”. There were no shortage of answers to this apparently hot topic.

We’ve all been there, listening to another overrunning self-indulgent pitch.

Sales meetings can help you win more business, but if not handled well they can cost you time in front of prospects. While no salespeople like to spend time out of the field, effective sales meetings can deliver value to them to increase the likelihood of winning business. And truthfully, if your sales meetings are not doing just that, you need to make some changes and make them fast! As the sales manager -- the sales leader -- you are responsible for ensuring sales meetings provide that value through action orientation and client focus.

I love working with SME’s and their owners - the backbone of our business society and the lifeblood of this country. Unfortunately, some small business owners fuel problems that don't have to exist by focusing more on their product or service than their sales force. Having quality products and services is only half the goal; the other half is the development a high performing sales staff to present them in the marketplace. I had an enlightening conversation with a business owner recently about the current downward state of his business and the options he was exploring to reverse the trend. I asked, "How many of your company problems would disappear if your sales staff would sell more of your products?"