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90-Second Pre Call Planning: A Simple Process for Cold Calling Success

pre-call planning featured image
Sales Development

As a sales trainer, there’s always a balance between research and just picking up the phone and dialing out. How much research do you do before just picking up the phone and dialing?

Too little, and you sound like a cold call, and you’ll get disconnected.

Too much, and you waste time you could spend connecting with the people who you can convince to take an appointment and eventually to buy your product or service.

What you need is a quick and easy way to do some pre-call planning — so you have a successful call without having to invest too much prep time.

RELATED: The 4 Most Important Cold Call Statistics for Sales Success in 2019

Introducing: 90-Second Pre-Call Planning

What? 90 seconds? Can that really make a difference?

Yes! While this pre-call process is most useful for openers (sales reps and business reps), it can be effectively used for inside sales professionals and anyone else who makes their living on the phones.

And once you get comfortable with the process, it will take you only 90 seconds to do, and it will make a measurable difference in your appointment setting activities.

So how does it work? Let’s take a look.

5 Easy Steps to Effective Pre-Call Planning

Cold calling may work for your prospect — but it won’t work for you. Before you pick up the phone, take a couple of minutes to prepare.

This quick process warms you up for the call, so you can focus on selling instead of minor details that could make or break the call.

pre call planning

Step 1: Find their Preferred Name

Find out the person you are calling’s preferred name.

Duh. Easy right?

Not always. Is their name Mike or Michael? Do they go by Susan or Suzie? And how do you pronounce their name?

Make sure you know the client’s name — and that you say it out loud — 4 or 5 times (or longer if it takes you more to be comfortable saying it).

How do you know what they prefer to be called?

A quick LinkedIn search will often tell you, because when someone writes a recommendation for someone, they put their preferred name in the recommendation. If you don’t find it, I recommend doing a quick Facebook check for their name and you’ll often find their preferred name there.

Step 2: Find their Title

What is the title of the person you’re about to call? Where do they sit in the organization? Is a vice president a big deal, or is the organization filled with them?

A few seconds to find this out can help you have a better conversation.

Step 3: Figure Out their Role in Decision-Making

Sure, you can’t know their exact role in decision making, but you can absolutely guess based on their title and how many people in their role are in the company.

An owner or CFO usually has buying power. A vice president might have authority. A project manager probably doesn’t have buying power.

Use these to help you find out if you need to drive harder to figure out:

  • Who will help in making the decision
  • Who else may need to be involved in a decision
  • What types of questions to ask to qualify your prospect

Step 4: What Does the Company Do?

You always want to know what a company does for their core business. Do they sell products or deliver services? Are they in manufacturing or in banking?

Not sure? Take a few seconds and review their LinkedIn company page. Or highlight the company name in Google Chrome, right-click (or control-click if you use a Mac), and do a Google search for the company.

Here’s a tip: Check their time zone. Look at your prospect’s phone number. The first three digits are their area code. Click the link and then search by the area code. Though it won’t be 100% accurate (nothing will), it will help you make sure you’re not calling too early in the morning, most of the time.

Step 5: Review and Practice

There are 3 vital statements you need to practice before you speak to the prospect. Here’s what you need to have ready.

Opening Statement You Will Use To Get The Prospect’s Attention

You’ve developed a few good openers, and you’re ready to get their attention. If you haven’t, re-read 7 Perfect Sales Pitch Examples and modify them for your situation.

Remember: Your opening statement is one of two things you can control, as it’s the first thing your customer will hear after they answer your call.

Two Brush-Off Statements To Use

Many times you’ll get the old brush off. It’s on you to redirect to something relevant and get the prospect’s attention, or you’ll get hung up on fast.

Prepare to use two good brush-off statement, and be ready to use the one that feels the best.

One Voicemail To Leave

The last thing you can control is what will happen for 90% of your calls — leaving a voicemail. Here are 7 voicemail scripts you need to have prepared in your own words that you can deliver when the call goes to voicemail.

Prepare one that fits your style, and practice it until you’re comfortable with it. Then have it ready, so you don’t stumble over your words when it comes time to leave a voicemail.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Get Your Prospects to Pick Up Their Phones

Your Formula for Success

Here’s how it works…

To prepare for a list of 20 people you want to call — giving each of them 90 seconds of prep time — you’ll prep for a total 15 minutes each hour and make calls for 45 minutes of the hour.

Preparation, practice, and then produce is the fastest route to success.

And time is of the essence.

Ultimately, you need to know if your solution is right for the prospect and whether they’re the right customer for you. For that, you need to set an appointment where you can discover the prospect’s needs and the pain they’re experiencing.

90 seconds is just enough time to sound intelligent and win the opportunity to set that appointment.

Don’t Just Wing It

“Just wing it” is a recipe for disaster. Without planning and practice, you can hurt relationships and dramatically reduce your deals.

Instead, prepare… practice… and produce.

I promise, if you do it regularly, you WILL produce.

Phil Gerbyshak

Phil Gerbyshak is the vice president of sales training at an educational software company, Tampa-based Vector Solutions, as well as a sought-after speaker on the sales circuit. Phil’s sales philosophy is simple: prepare, practice, produce. He believes that everyone is responsible for sales, and he makes sure the sales teams he serves lead by example. You can learn more from Phil by listening to his podcast Conversations with Phil, or by connecting to him on LinkedIn.