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Need some help with my sales interviews


I've been in the B2B sales game for about 9 months now. I'm probably your typical sales person, struggling, just surviving and knowing I can do much better. The motivation is there, but it seems I'm being let down by lack of preparation before a sales call, and this is affecting my confidence and causing my nerves to become evident during the interview.

I was wondering what techniques/tips/strategies people employed to prepare themselves psychologically prior to a sales call? Does positive thinking, affirmations, etc work? I know preparation is key, but I'm someone who prefers to engage people in relaxed conversation rather than an unleash a memorized script on them, should I use a script anyway? Winging it is great when it works but it doesn't always work.

Advice would be appreciated, thank you.shds; - by salesjunior
I listen to my favorite music on my way to the appointment. Me personally (Im 1 month into B2B sales) I try not to think too much about what Im going to say, infact I try to clear my mind as best as possible just prior. The more I think about the appointment, the more nervious I get. Of course I know what information I need if I'm gathering information for a quote, and I know how my product AND my services will benefit the probable purchaser when I give my presentation. Again, to me, its all about being in my place just before. Music and maybe some meditation, but I think that everyones different and my "pregame" will not work for everybody. - by Kapture1
I know preparation is key, but I'm someone who prefers to engage people in relaxed conversation rather than an unleash a memorized script on them,...shds;

If you equate that with "unleashing a memorized script" I believe you would be lacking in the most important skill.

Ask yourself what you NEED for a sales call and prepare yourself with what you determine are the answers. Advanced people here will be able to help you once you determine what you need--which is YOUR job. - by Gary A Boye
To help with possible suggestions can you give us a quick run down on what you sell?

Thanks, - by Sell4alivn
I'm selling copiers, mostly to the SME sector. Not the most glamorous job but pays exceptionally well to those who succeed in it.

Gary is correct, my call preparation is poor. We’re given a script in which to explain our purpose, process etc but I don’t like using it. I suppose in order to prepare better I would require an outline of the main points I would like to cover, as well as a structure for my presentation, and rehearse it over and over to myself until it feels natural. That would be a start. - by salesjunior
Gary is correct, my call preparation is poor. We’re given a script in which to explain our purpose, process etc but I don’t like using it.
Salesjunior, when an employer gives an employee in sales a script, they want you to use it. My experience, and the experience of several business owners I've talked to, has revealed that employees who don't comply with an employer's requests do so because they think they have a BETTER way. That frequently leads to dismissal. If you truly do have a better way, it might be worth the risk. But apparently you don't. One thing is for sure--you have to work at what you're doing. If you don't have skills--then get them.

One question. What makes you think that explaining your purpose, process, etc. on a call is not a good idea? For instance, do you think that any expert on sales here would suggest otherwise? - by Gary A Boye
Gary makes a very good point. When I've hired people to sell, I already had a proven approach and interview outline.

The approach script was non-negotiable. In fact, I had my new people repeat it aloud at least 200 times before I even considered letting them make their first telephone call.

I insisted upon it because it worked.

In another time, far, far away, I started a sales job and the boss gave me a very heavy "tool" to lug around. He also gave me permission to try to develop an easier alternative. I wish he hadn't. After 6 months of failure, I came back to the tried and true tool. I lost valuable time and money because he was to weak to insist I follow a proven path to success.

Your sales field is very challenging. In addition to learning the script and preparing for your calls, I would also find the top performers in the office and learn from them.

Oh...and plan to work your butt off. Success will come. - MM - by magicman
There are in my opinion two key things one needs before entering a sales call.

The first is a well documented and thought out sales process (presentation).

Most companies make the mistake of assuming that the people they hire can sell and specifically that they already know enough to figure out the best method for themselves.

This conclusion is not supported by the facts and leads to exactly your situation - salespeople who really aren't confident in making calls.

It is the company's responsibility to furnish a strong unique selling proposition and selling process or "story." This is Michael Gerber's concept of the "system" which empowers everyone on the team. But most sales organizations don't develop true selling systems.

The second component is actually just a change in your mindset that will make a huge difference in your confidence.

Stop thinking about "selling the prospect." That's right don't be "primarily concerned about making the sale." Be concerned about helping the prospect find the right solution.

There is a huge difference.

First off you aren't attached to helping the prospect find the answer as it is just something to do -- there's no fear involved.

Second, you don't have the power to change the prospect's mind, only the prospect does. What you do have is "key knowledge" about the type of problems the prospect faces.

This knowledge gives you the ability to help the prospect solve the problem. And this approach leads you correctly through the selling process because you are forced to find out the situations, discover the problems, understand how they impact the business
and then find out if they represent enough pain that they must be solved.

With the above knowledge (SPIN) you now are in the perfect position to present your solution in its very best light. And if you followed the process correctly you will have already planted some anchors that will help you win the business.

You are now working with the prospect instead of trying to change his/her mind -- no fear, no pressure, just the fun of solving a problem.

I hope that helps. - by Flyn L. Penoyer
junior sales

The problem most new guys have is this.

They are given a tool to do the job by their manager.
they then receive the tool and say they can't use that.

when you are given a tried and tested bit of kit by someone far more experienced than you then how can you say it does not work for you

it may not work for you on your 1st or 2nd call or even your 3rd call. that's not to say it will not work.

Lets say he gave you the music and you have write the words to suite the music.

Once the words are written, they then must learn them over and over again. no short cuts here. make it work for you!!
If i gave most sales people lets say an elephant, and asked how they would eat it?? 1 out of a hundred would get the answer.

sales takes time so does eating an elephant.

best advice you will ever get is this and this worked for David Beckham. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. DO NOT PRACTICE until you get it right, practice till you do not do it wrong

i tell my sales people do not come to me with a problem unless you already have at least 60% of the solution. hard but it works and it makes them work at it to. you need to work at it and with what you were given do not try and re-invent the wheel

Good luck. remember this their is two teams you can be on.The Demolition team or the Construction Team. YOUR CHOICE. - by tudorrose
Sales Junior,

An effective approach is to use the script - along with a call plan or meeting plan to guide your dialogue for the meeting. This will help you clarify your specific objective for the meeting (i.e., build rapport, enhance relationship, uncover needs, qualify need, negotiate, present demo, etc.). Without doing this, your lack of preparation will leave you frustrated and ready to give up.

Using a call plan and the script you are given - keep a few things in mind. First, the objective you have in mind is a goal - what YOU are trying to attain. However, you can't control the outcome of the call or what your prospect says or does. You can only control your actions and how you respond to your customer/prospect. That's why you want to 'nail it' on the aspects of the call you CAN control - your preparation!!

With that in mind, the art of using a script is to make it your own - personalize it and improvise it based on the natural dialogue and conversation during the call. Otherwise, it will sound canned and impersonal. This is not what you want when you are trying to build rapport with someone to make a sale.

Finally, mentally preparing by using positive affirmation or visualization is a very wise thing to do. Top performers in every field do it - sports, music, business...so should you! Invest in some motivational tapes or books as well as some good mentors to keep you going on the tougher days. During my most challenging year ever in sales - listening to motivational cds during my commute is what kept me in the game day after day -which ultimately led me to a very strong year end finish!

Best of luck to you!

Coach Maria - by CoachMaria
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