That sentence still sends a cold shiver up my spine. I absolutely hated to hear those words come out of my parent’s mouth. Usually, because the answer was no and any fun I was having was about to end. But now that we are adults and better yet professional salespeople or insurance agents, does that mean we no longer have homework? Sorry to end your fun, but you still have to do your homework before making that next sales call.
In this age of information, mainly digital information, it is inexcusable to show up uninformed, let alone unprepared. Rest assure your competition is doing their homework. So what is your homework? I’m not speaking about product knowledge, quote preparations, scheduling, etc. It goes much further than that. You need to do your homework on the person you are about to go meet with, along with the company.
The first place to search would be LinkedIn. It is a very useful tool. I mean where else can you get what amounts to the persons resume within minutes online? You may find you worked at the same company, or know the same people, or went to the same university or have a common interest. This is a great tool to help you build that all important rapport with this prospect. You might even find their birthday is coming up in a few days. Wouldn’t it be thoughtful to walk in with a $5 Starbucks card and a birthday card and say “Happy Birthday early for next Tuesday” ? I’ll bet your competitor won’t do that! Never lose site that people do business with people they like and trust. Our first impressions are usually lasting ones, be sure to make the most of your first impression. You never get another chance to make a first impression.
The next place to search is Google, Yahoo, or Bing, in other words the internet search engines. What can you find out about your prospect? The internet is full of the good, the bad, and the ugly (background whistling) about almost anyone and any business. Information is power. As a situation arises, the more information you have, the better you will handle each case.
Lastly, did you do your personal homework? Meaning, is your LinkedIn up to date and impressive? What does Google and the other search engines say about you? Are you invisible? If you have been in sales for many years and have no web presence, it makes the prospect uncomfortable with you. That may cause a cancellation or an ugly “stand up”. Just try to Google yourself and your company. What are your prospects reading about you, before you even have a chance to meet them? If you don’t do your homework, rest assure, your prospect and your competition is up late doing their homework. You can’t pull out a passing grade by acing the test like Econ 101. See, in “sales class”, your homework is the only grade, either pass or fail. Study hard!
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Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.