Sales Coach: Don’t Fail to Prepare

Washington Wizards v/s Denver Nuggets January 25, 2011

I was 22 years old when I took a sales role at Bronto in 2003.  The company was just two guys at the time, and the office was the size of a hotel bathroom.  The company had a functioning product and a handful of customers.  My job was to sell, even though I had never really sold anything before.

After a few days of “training” — which mostly consisted of listening to the founders fumble through sales calls — they turned me loose. 

And I’ll never forget the first call that I made:

  • Ringing, ringing, goes to voicemail.
  • “Hello, this is Eric calling from Bronto…terrible voicemail message…
  • “Please give me a call back at….umm…
  • (aside to my boss, the CEO) Joe — what is our phone number?”
  • Click.

I was mortified.

But I learned the hard way to always prepare for calls — even short calls — and to anticipate the possible directions the call might take.  

Knowing your own phone number is obviously stupid easy.  It takes a little more work, but you should also always know your purpose for the call, how you intend to drive the conversation to achieve your purpose, and how you’re going to create value for the prospect.  

You get this by reviewing your notes and thinking from the perspective of the prospect.  And once you’re in the habit of doing this, you can often run through your call prep while the phone is ringing.

By the way, my phone number at Bronto in 2003 was 919.806.4421.  And that prospect obviously didn’t call me back.