A Sales Management Cheat Sheet to a Great First Impression

As sales leaders, we like to think our reps are prepared for conversations with prospects. They know the product, benefits, and customer stories. They’ve done their homework.

But I was surprised to hear that nearly 57% of B2B prospects and customers feel that their sales teams are not prepared for the first meeting.

If that stat isn’t daunting enough, think about this: The first appointment will probably be over the phone. Today, 46% of high-growth tech companies say they are growing via inside sales. That means the stakes are higher, there’s less room for error, and prospects are demanding that sales reps do their homework. As sales managers, here’s a few ideas to audit and change your preparation process to make sure your team is not in the 57% who come unprepared.

First things first, during your weekly one-on-one meetings, run a quick assessment on the rep’s preparedness and organization. Ask probing question about the week ahead:

  • What new conversations are you most excited about?
  • I saw you had a demo scheduled with X – what do they do?
  • What level of the organization are we talking with in your demo on Tuesday?
  • What use case do you expect to be most appealing to Company X next week?
  • What are some similar client stories you plan on using in X discussion?

Asking these questions regularly will create a trigger within your reps. Think about Pavlov ringing the bell. It’s classical conditioning. The more you ask these questions, the more reps will become informed, ready and confident in answering them.

If you ask these questions and get great answers, you can stop reading this post. If, however, you have room for improvement, here are some tips:

1. In your sales process, there is likely a BDR who’s done some qualification and research. Too often this gets translated minutes before the first appointment.

To solve this, create a standard note template for BDR’s. As soon as a meeting is set, that template should get logged into the CRM, waiting for an AE to review.

Sales Spreadsheet

2. Set guidelines about when meetings can get scheduled.

This sounds simple, but when things get busy, reps will start to schedule five back-to-back meetings and expect them to end perfectly on time. This NEVER goes well. Add a 15-minute buffer on the calendar before and after each meeting for prep and follow up.

3. Provide training as to where reps should include prospect research in the conversation.

Far too often I’ve seen sales reps who mention recent company news, the prospect’s role, or location to make small-talk in the first five minutes of a conversation.

Take the static, standard sales presentation and find moments to include research about the company or the individual throughout it. This creates fluidity in the conversation.

There are plenty of ways to improve the sales process, but initially, communication is key. If you’re reps aren’t communicating thoroughly from the get-go, you’re the one putting deals on the line.

Chief Operating Officer

Conner Burt is the Chief Operating Officer at Lessonly. His team helps high-growth businesses adopt Lessonly’s learning software to fuel growth and productivity. Conner is a former collegiate soccer coach and alumnus of ExactTarget, a Salesforce company.
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