Preparation: Your Greatest Differentiator

Growing up, our weekends were synonymous with home improvement projects. Whether it was a task assigned by my mother or a spontaneous endeavor, my father’s meticulous preparation set the tone for success. Take, for instance, the time he tackled replacing a three-foot section of baseboard heating in our basement.

Before reaching for a single tool, my father meticulously crafted a list of everything required for the project. While I eagerly awaited the chance to dive into the hands-on work, I quickly learned the value of his thorough preparation. We’d venture into his workshop to assess materials, followed by a single, efficient trip to Home Depot. Once back, we cleaned the workspace, ensuring optimal conditions. Each tool was then meticulously arranged, signaling the start of our endeavor.

Despite any formal training, my father approached every project with the precision of a seasoned professional. Now that I’m a homeowner, I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom in his process, having learned the hard way through countless return trips to Home Depot.

Preparation isn’t just crucial in DIY projects; it’s equally vital in sales and sales training. High-performing salespeople understand this principle well. According to LinkedIn research, 70 percent of B2B buyers feel sales reps aren’t adequately prepared for their meetings. So, how can you ensure readiness? Here are some insights gleaned from our research of working alongside thousands of sales professionals:

  • Research: Know your prospect’s business, role, goals, and challenges.

This doesn’t mean simply a quick LinkedIn search, although that’s a great place to start. Ask yourself, “What’s the Prospect’s Story?” Create a simple T-chart. On the left side list your prospect’s goals and on the right side list the corresponding challenges for those goals. Your ability to speak directly to their goals and challenges shows that you understand their world.

  • Set Single-Call Objectives: 

Define clear goals for each call. Ask yourself, ‘What’s my purpose for this interaction? By the end, what do I want to have happen?” Having at least a framework of where you want the conversation to go will keep you from going on unnecessary tangents, which can diminish credibility. Know what you want, have a general idea of how you’d like to get there, and then do the most important thing you can on a sales call – LISTEN. 

  • Prepare Great Questions: 

Once you have an idea of how and where the conversation will go, craft insightful questions to uncover problems and pain points. According to a phenomenon called “instinctive elaboration,” well thought-out, open-ended questions can shift the listeners thinking in a preferred direction. A properly crafted and placed question can also create enough urgency for your prospect to want to initiate a change. 

  • Anticipate Barriers: 

In sales training, this and questions are typically the most sought-after topics. Identify potential barriers to change and prepare responses to address them effectively. Anticipate what their anchors are (where/what they are comparing you to) and how you can shift that anchor to one that’s more favorable to your offering. Hopefully, you’ve planted some anchors throughout the conversation making this process much easier. 

  1. Practice: 

Rehearse your pitch and responses to ensure clarity, confidence, and professionalism. Pull aside a team member, hire a sales coach, or invest in sales training and ask them to role-play your upcoming conversation. Ask these individuals to provide feedback and adjust from there. This is analogous to sparring in boxing. It will allow you to take some hits so that once you get in the ring for real, you’ll know what to expect and how to react. 

Like many of us learn sooner or later, that stuff that our fathers did that used to drive us nuts, ends up being some of the most important life lessons we’ll ever get. For me, and I’m still working on it, excellent preparation is the key to excellence in performance. 

At Braintrust, we understand the importance of preparedness concerning coaching and sales engagements. For all your coaching and sales training needs, connect with us at We’d love to have a conversation with you.

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