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Pre-call planning seems like a no-brainer, but many salespeople don't put in the effort to actually follow through with it. They wing it and then they wonder why they lost control on the sales call. Has this ever happened to you or your sales team?

Research shows that 96% of salespeople don’t define an objective before going on a sales call. No salesperson should ever enter a sales call without doing some amount of preparation. It’s like preparing for an opponent in a sporting event.

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the company?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the individual responsible for making this decision?
  • Where does the product or service fit and how do we help the prospect see that?
  • What don’t we know about the prospect and how do we ask appropriate questions to discover these things?

The 89-Cent Solution

Sales leaders, run this exercise with your sales team. We pulled this from our own sales coaches playbook.


Ask them:
How often have you been sitting in the car after a sales call, and you thought of something you should have done that would have been more appropriate than what you just did?

“I shoulda said…,” “I shoulda asked…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…”

You make a mental note of the shouldas…and then what?


With everything else that goes on during the day, your shouldas become a distant memory—lessons that could have been learned, but were lost instead.

Invest 89 cents in a spiral notebook and keep it on the seat of the car. (Alternatively, you can use a visually driven note-taking application, like Evernote, Pages or OneNote.) Draw a line down the center of each page. Label the left side: The Prospect Said/Asked/Did. Label the right side: I Should Have Said/Asked/Done.

The next time you have an impromptu debrief in the car, record the prospect’s action along with your shouldas. Don’t record what you did: record what you should have done. (The purpose of the journal is to reinforce good behavior, not remind you of poor behavior.) If you’re not sure what a more appropriate behavior would be, consult with your sales manager or a fellow salesperson at a later time. You won’t have to rely on your memory for an accurate description of the event: it will be recorded in your notes.

So, the next time you think, “I shoulda…,” write it down. A few minutes of your time will return big dividends in the form of improved performance and increased sales.


Do you ever think that a more effective pre-call meeting could have led to a better outcome on a sales call?

Get your Sales Team to use the Pre-Call Planning Tool with Evernote so they can map out a way to get a yes or a no from the prospect or buyer.


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