The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode 53 · 7 months ago

Prepare and Practice to Confidently Execute Sales Calls w/ John Kaplan


After elite athletes win champions and gold medals they don’t stop practicing. They continue the work that’s necessary to repeat success and beat their competition.

Elite salespeople follow the same playbook. Whether you're at the top of your game or just starting, we break down our best tips to prepare and practice for your sales calls. John Kaplan shares the prepping and practicing tactics he uses and teaches to accomplish critical meeting goals and achieve success in his deals.

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Here are some additional resources on preparing and practicing:

- Lessons From a Sales Veteran [Podcast]

- Overcoming the Seller Deficit Disorder

- Align with the Buying Process: The Power of the Mantra

What I love about that really simplephraseology, or just that that real simple MONTRA is it gets everybodygrounded unexactly, where we are, I'm mapping our value to a customersproblem. That's the ultimate skill for a sellar you're. Listening to the audible, ready,podcast, the show that helps you and your teams sell more faster willfeature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a salesengine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue, growth presented by the team,AF force management, a leader in PTB sales effectin. This let's get started hello and welcome to the audible, ready,podcast, I'm Rachel Clatmiller. Thank you to all of you. Ho have gone on yourfavorite podcast player and rated the audible, ready, podcast, five stars. Weappreciate it. If you haven't done it, take two seconds and do it for us. Wereally appreciate it. I'm joined today by John Caplan Hi John jy Rachel. Howare you I am good, and today we are going to talk about one of yourfavorite topics. John, I know prepping and practicing when I was pulling thistopic together. I thought about one of our repeat: Clients, Joe Marson. Hecalls his salespeople sales athletes and whenever I've published a quotewith him or interviewed him, he always uses that turn sales athletes and youwe use a lot of sports analogogies and our concepts and our conversations andthat idea of an athlete, meaning that you need to practice. There's aplaybook you're, always looking to get better. So the concept of salesathletes really applies to sales. It's no different yeah. I love that term sales athletes. For me,it's about honing, your craft and it's about working towards mastery andthat's what all of us should be looking to do. No matter where we are who weare, what our situation is, whether we think we're at the top of our game orwhether we think we're at the beginning of our game. You know the most deletesellers on the planet, they're looking to get better every single day, so thatreally fits with my thinking and I love the term sales athletes right. Thepractice is is never done. You mean championship teams, don't just take thenext year off, right, there's prepping and then there'spracticing and there's several ways to go about it. When you're talking aboutyour sales conversations, so let's first talk about Priping, then we'llmove into practicing. Of course, those of you out there listening, youprobably have several tools in your organization to prep for calls, but youstill have to have a discipline around doing it when we did our recent podcastwith frank as Alino on our team. It's a great episode. Make sure you listen toit. He talked about effective prep or doing your homework before calls and heacquitted it to having respect for the people who are taking their time tospeak to you. I love that. I love that point by frank and I'm reminded of thesurvey that's been conducted over...

...several decades and the answers alwayscome back the same, so it's men and women who buy goods and services andthey're speaking about men and women who sell them goods and services, andthe question is asked what are some of your biggest frustrations with thosewho sell to you and I've never forgotten the answer to thes survey.It's come back the same for fifty years. That's why you'll hear me say it's:Egypt, old! I think it's been around for thousands of years. The answers arenumber one that buyers do not believe we understand their business. Thenumber two: they don't believe that we listen very well, and so, when youthink about that, it really speaks to preparation. There's people out thereright now, listening to this Whoi, I'm sure today or tonight, or tomorrow,they're in the middle of doing research, ther their utilizing, Google and linkedin and they're they're. Looking at companies and the people that they'remeeting with- and you know it seems obvious, but if you don't do it, youcan easily get embarrassed. I remember years ago I had somebody tell me, giveme some feedback and said: Hey John, don't ask me questions that you couldhave got the answer to from somebody else in my organization. I've neverforgotten that feedback. If some of the best feedback I've ever received. Don'task me a question that you could have got the answer to from somebody else inmy organization or something that you could have read, and so, when I thinkabout defining you know meeting objectives, you know I don'tovercomplicate it. I think about what I want to accomplish in the meeting andthen I think about the three piece purpose process payoff. I practice it.What's the purpose of my phone call the process? What process am I going totake the customer, the Prospectoug? What do I want from them? What am Igoing to do to them? What am I asking of them and then the payoff is simplywhat's in it for them, and that is the preparation. The threeps is simplepreparation that I can go through, no matter who I'm talking to when I'mtalking to them or what I'm talking to them about and then obviously it helpshem put together a great great agenda to help me and the clients they focused.I mean even AV force management will be in an internal meeting and may havecalled it with somebody and they miy say: okay, what's the purpose of thismeetning hat? What's the purpose process payoff here that we're doingwhen we use that concept all the time? So it's a good ones, and you mentionedthe agenda because that purpose process payoff fuels your agenda and that's thediscipline of prepping for your calls, and we've talked about it before Johnthe importance of sending that agenda in advance. Well, for me, it's amazingto me how many people don't do it? How many people do not send an agenda inadvance and when I typically ask them, why don't you send an agenda in advance,I'm horrified at the overwhelming response, they're actually afraid thatthe customers going to cancel, and so...

...what that tells me is that they'reafraid that the customers not going to see value in what they do and and howthey're going to present it, and I think that fundamentally comes down toyou either believe what you do matters or you don't that's number one. If youbelieve what you do matters then there's no way. You'll have any fearabout approaching anybody about speaking to anybody about calling thesea levels about asking for commitments, there's just those people that believewhat they do. Matters just have that confidence and conviction, and then thesecond thing is: is that I'll on our honor, my craft, I'll honor? What I dofor a living and that belief, ind? What I do matters- and I will couple it withgreat preparation- skills to show respect to those people that I am goingto speak to you put those two together and it's a very, very powerfulcombination, be elite. Wake up, think what you do matters and prepareyourself to present it in that way. I think it's a great formula for success,right, yeah and there's also a step to preparing if you're leading the callyou've got to prepare the other people who ere joining your call. Internallyfrom from your own team, we talk about using that kind of what we've heardconcept, what you've learned so far in discovery most of the time, you've donesome discovery if you're pulling another people to the call, and if youknow those elements of what you've heard so far, you want to make surethat the internal team is aligned on whatyou need to do. What the agenda is o. You can move that deal further along,but Jon. What, if I don't know informationon what, if I haven't donediscovery what if I've got a couple people joining my initial call, maybeit's somebody has a connection or something. How am I preparing the teamfor the call internally? What are your best practices for a ligning internally?Does it come back to that threeps the agenda similar, but what, when I thinkabout the ultimate semation that any seller wants to be in a position to say-and I want you to think about this- can you really say this on the opportunitythat you're working on the account that you're working on on a forecast ofopportunity on a pipeline opportunity on a brand new opportunity where youhaven't made a phone call? I want you to think about what the future lookslike. What the future looks like is what I call the ultimatetomation and wecall it the mantra. Where have the ability to look at the customer and sayso what I've heard you say: Mister missus customer! Why is that important?Because it proves that we listen to them. So what I've heard you say-Mister Missus customer that these or the positive business outcomes thatyou're trying to achieve why aure business outcomes important because itproves that we understand their business. So I know that I want to beable to summarize ultimately somewhere in the future as the business outcomesand in order to achieve those positive... outcomes. These are theminimum required capabilities that you told us you were going to need andknowing that that I'm building information, I'm gathering informationaround highly differentiated required capabilities to set us apart from ourcompetitors and to align with exactly what the customer believes is needed.And then you said that you were going to measure success this way andinternally in my mind, I know that those measurements are going to behighly favorable for us. So this is the common language that we'regoing to use internally and externally and o I like to think about tesis threebuckets of information that were constantly gathering. If you have noneof that information, you begin to have a hypothesis about the business issuesand you start to ask discovery, questions to qualify and to clarifythat, and I want you to think about positives outcomes, requirecapabilities and metrics. These are three buckets that visually you knowmentally are just kind of in front of you and you're filling all these threebuckets up and when you fill those three buckets up, you have the abilityto pivot and now earn the right to talk about yourself. So let me tell you howwe do that Mister missus customer how we do the require capabilities. Let metell you how we do it differently or better and where we've done it before.So I like to call this the ultimate somation. We also call it the MONTRA. Icall it sometimes the measuring stick, I call it the great navigator. I don'tcare what you call it, but just call it. This must have information for us to besuccessful, with our solutions with our customers aligning those to ourcustomers, problems and so, no matter where I am whether I'm with a newcustomer, whether I'm with a an existing customer and I'm looking torenew or I'm doing a Qbr or I'm doing a land and expand. I always look to seewhere I am with that navigator with the Mantra and I'm always looking to buildthat ultimate sumation and so sorry about the long winded answer, but Ifeel really strongly about this. It's I think people overcomplicated. I know Igot to fill up three things as a seller. Positive Business Outcomes requirecapabilities and metrics. Then I have to align how we do it, how we do itdifferently or better and where we've done it before to those three buckets,and I keep everybody involved in the sales campaign, including the customeron the same page with where we are in our effort to do that. So I think it'sjust a critical, critical skill yeah that must have information. Thosebuckets like you said. However, you want to visualize it is it that ingreat is a great. What am I trying to say and internal rallying mechanism soeveryone that joining the call? Here's. What we know here is what we do, andsometimes what you don't know is the most important right, because that'syour aim for the conversation yeah a d a lot of times. What happens right ispeople's planning when we're preparing... make a call. Is We're preparing totalk to him about what we do wel? What do they know about what we do? What dothey know about our products? Who's going to speak about this WHO's, goingto speak about that, and I'm like we ain't going to speak about anythinguntil we understand the positiveisness outcomes, re quire capabilities, anmetric because anything outside of the customers, mind that is what's requiredin their mind, we're going to wind up being more than what's required. So wedidn't listen. The number two we're going to inadvertently become expensiveto that customer. So what I love about that really simple phraseology or justthat that real simple MONTRA is it gets everybody grounded and exactly where weare on lapping our value to a customers problem. That's the ultimate skill fora sellar, altimotely yeah, and there you go so that's propping. I lonts maketha shift now to to practicing you you're, going to probably practice,especially for those bigger calls where there's perhaps more at Stak, yourlikely roleplaying. So, let's dive into some best practices for making sure you,as the seller, get what you need from that that type of practice the roleplay yeah. You talked about roleplace. I really really like that concept and-and I think people listening no matter who you are, how old you are you're,probably familiar with star Treck, and when I was younger, I used to like thelittle nemmesis group of people. They were called the clingons, and thesewere the these were kind of Dean, be difficult people. They were always the.They were. Always the people messing with the people on the enterprise orwhatever, but what I love most about hem is they fought each other just tostay sharp, so they were constantly battling each other just to stay sharpand that's kind of how I look at Roleplaye. You know when I was playingfootball in college. I always noticed this the time, I'm thinking about acouple of people. I don't want to alienate them, but there are two peoplewhen I played for Boysy State, one guy was a defensive and then the other guywas a left tackle, and these were the top players on our team. They both wentto the NFL and what I noticed is I taid after practice, one of them wouldinitiate it and they grabed the other and they'd stay after practice, andthey would go one on one against it, each other. They were the two bestplayers in the conference that their positions and so what betteropportunity to face off against one another. Nobody had to tell him to doit. They just wound up kind of going one on one after practice and I lovedit because I always respected that and I I never saw that formula equalfailure. There was nobody any better than they were that they were going toplay against and they squaredit off and got each other better and I've justagain. I've. Never I've, never forgotten that, and so that's why Ilove this kind of principle of the roleplay and the more you can make roleplaying. You know a real experience, the greater its value, so you got tomake sure that the person that you're... know that's playing. The buyer hasfluency about the deal and got to make sure each other are prepared to makesure that it goes effectively. You don't want people just pulling. Youknow answers out of the sky. You want them to try to be as relevant as aspossible. So it's it got to be a knowledgeable participant to be morenaturally present, and so you want to think about doing it in differentscenarios. Like you know, different situations like a phone call, a zoompresentation or an imperson meeting, and what are the different environmentsthat have uniqueness about them with the different medium that you're goingto use? You know you want to be to try to figure out. You know in a similarway how to align for objectives in the call, so you know aligning thoseobjectives for the roleplay so make sure that you simulate the reason why Iloved watching those two great warriors go against each other every day,because it was jast close to reality as they were going to get. They weresimulating what was going to happen on that field and how better to do it thanthe two best competitors on the team at opposite positions that would goagainst each other in their role. So my specific advice is to make it asrealistic as possible. Don't wait for the company to do it? Don't wait forsales development to tell you hey we're going to do these role plays, go grabthe best person on the team square off with them. Ask them to simulate being abuyer. Ask them to simulate being a champion: Ask them to simulate. Youknow a competitive situation and again the people that I see doing that arethe elite sellers. They don't have to be told they just do it naturally, sogo be natural go. Do it yeah that practice can be really important,especially if you're peraising, with some of the elite people on your onyour own team and it's important to that. They know what you are trying topractice. Why are you? Why do you want to role play? What are you nervousabout? What do you want to practice handling if both sides are aligne onthat it can make the role play real, effective and Fort Managers? John, youwant to make sure that you are being a great buyer and beingknowledgeable and allowing the rap to have great practice, but you also wantto make sure that you give great feedback and, if you're wrap, you wantto make sure that you're getting great feedback. You want to know what you cancan do better and what? What is what you did well that that you want torepeat yeah, like that scenario, was talking to you about boysy state, thecoach didn't initiated that the two players initiated that the coach kindof wandered over watched, the exchange and then gave very, very actionablefeedback, and that's what I remember about those scenarios is that being aleader and being very, very specific in making sure that thefeedback was actionable. So that's what I'd like to translate to our worldtoday. So how do you make it? You know actionable, so the rap should knowexactly what to do to perform better in...

...a real conversation. So you can usephrases like you know, something you may want to try in that instance is xor here's something. That's worked for me when that's happening my salesconversations before so, but the rep should have a very clear understandingof what he or she needs to do in order to make that a real conversation and agreat role play is as close to real a real sales meeting or call as you'regoing to get and again the key to a development. Experience, though, ismaking the feedback productive so encourage the sellers to getcomfortable with being uncomfortable. You know these two guys at the end ofthe at the end of practice, everybody hung around and watched, and sosomebody was going to win and somebody was going to lose an somebody's goingto win the next one and somebody was going to lose. So these guys were themost comfortable. What I'll never forget about it is they were the mostcomfortable in their own skin, very positive. They were staying positive bytranslate that to today's environment. If you're seller be comfortable beinguncomfortable, keep positive, you know, make the goals clear and develp. Youknow deliver actionable recommendations if you're the one given feedback, keepit simple, but also also motivate each other to be better yeah. I love that bykeeping at positive, because you just encourage more practice from otherpeople on your team. Yes, are there other things, John and yourk sellingcareer, or even now that have helped? You do help you in prepping andpracticing for a great call that you want to share yeah one I really haven'ttalked about yet is like I like to try to empathize with the person I'm goingto speak with, and so what I mean by that is like I like to sit with it fora moment, I like to pretend that I'm them and kind of stand in their momentof pain, and this will always help me- ask really really relevant questionsand and give me the confidence that what I do matters, and so I have toremember that survey and I have to I have to make sure if they think that Idon't understand their business and I don't listen. I have to make sure thatI'm going to have to demonstrate that so by sitting and understanding theirpain sitting in that pain a little bit just really trying to empathize with it.It helps me prepare for it and then it helps me understand it, and then I justask questions about it. So preparation is really nothing more for me thangetting really really grounded and empathizing and being authentic, andwhat that person sitting across from me or across from me in the media waves oron the zoom camera, or what have you what they are dealing with? I alreadyknow that exist whether they're talking to me or not. Talking to me, I just askthem questions about it, so it takes the pressure off. I know that painexists. I just sat with that when I'm preparing, for I understand how painfuland how stressful that could be, and...

...what the implications of that pain are.I'm in such a better position to ask great discovery questions when I dothat. Yeah have that enpathy at to the mindset, it's a great walkaway tip John.Is there a bottom line? You want to leave the folks with today. I thinkit's just you know. We talked about preparation. We talked about doingthings that are elyte talked a lot about things that people already knowabout on this call. L Excuse me on this podcast that you're listening to youknow this year. Some people make a decision to do it and others, don't youknow those two people I were talking about. They were all Americans. Theydidn't have to do that to compete in the NCA. They were thinking aboutcompeting in the NFL, so I don't care where you are or what level you're atyou have to put yourself in a mindset that you're going to get better todayand when you approach your day like that, I just think great outcomes aregoing to happen. Yeah Great Way to approach you day,priving and practicing. Thank you, John. My pleasure all right and thank you toall of you for listening to the audible, ready, podcast at force management.We're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams, areproven methodologies, deliver programs that build company alignment and fuelrepeatable revenue grown. Give your teams the ability to execute the grossstrategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proofis in our results. Let's get started visit us at force. Managementcom you'vebeen listening to the audible, ready podcast to not miss an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time.

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