5 Steps to a Winning Opening Game Plan

Sales Opening Game Plan, Sales TrainingLast week I shared a quick overview of 7 Tools for improving your sales. This week I thought I would drill down and address the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of developing your own Opening Game Plan.

Why bother with an Opening Game Plan?

Five reasons to think through and define an Opening Game Plan for your personal selling efforts may include:

  • Respect for your customers and prospects (i.e. not wasting their time)
  • An easier and more enjoyable sales process
  • Better brand image through a more professional sales process
  • Desire to optimise the value and investment in your selling activities
  • Increased sales

What is the end goal of the Opening Game Plan?

The end goal is to arrive at the best practice approach to delivering your sales presentation to prospects and customers. An Opening Game Plan will streamline and enhance outcomes in the following sales scenarios:

  • Business to business
  • Business to consumer and retail or showroom sales scenarios
  • Telephone selling
  • Telephone appointment setting scenarios
  • Negotiating with your spouse or boss

A little known fact is that having an effective Opening Game Plan can also increase your chances of success when negotiating with children (or at least minimise the impact of failure)!

5 Key Steps to developing your own Opening Game Plan

5 key steps to consider when developing your own winning Opening Game Plan:

1. Picture the Entire Game

It is important to step back and look at the big picture.  Review the must-have steps in your sales process.  From here you can define the best order of play and optimum delivery and timing.

If you picture the entire game in your planning you will recognise the limitations of the time that you have available with your prospect.

This will then serve to help prioritise the different steps in your sales process. The entire game includes numerous steps including those listed below:

  • Your opening and rapport building
  • Listening to your prospects story, needs and aspirations
  • Asking questions
  • Presenting you and your company
  • Presenting your key features and benefits
  • Addressing objections
  • Asking for commitment and defining the next steps which could be anything from a subsequent meeting or proposal or delivery of the final product
  • Saying goodbye

The steps listed above can sometimes take longer than expected leaving less time for the rest of the process.

2. Visualise Success

I refer back to last week where I quoted Josie Hodge, our Marketing Services Supervisor on a bit of sporting theory.

Josie Hodge, our resident golfer tells me that when a golfer goes onto the green, they visualise ‘holing’ their putt.

My message here is simple.  Visualise successful and best-practice delivery of your Opening Game Plan. If you visualise greeting the prospect in a confident and professional manner you have a better chance of being confident and professional. If you visualise presenting the features and benefits your products or services in a clear and effective way then you will be enhancing your chances of delivering powerful communication on the day.

3. Set Clear Targets

We are used to setting targets for sales calls, sales conversions and other sales and marketing metrics. However, within the Opening Game Plan our targets are a little different. Here I suggest that you set targets for ensuring your progress through the different steps of the sales process to ensure that you apply an appropriate proportion of time to key steps.  Key steps such as the presentation of features and benefits and the handling of objections are often rushed when the sales person spends too much time on other steps such as initial rapport building or procrastinates when transitioning to the main sales presentation.

4. Define the Transition to Main Sales Presentation

The Main Sales Presentation is the part where you present the features and benefits of you, your company and your products and services.  This is the part where you get hit with the objections that you need to address.  It is also from the main sales presentation that you create the opportunity to ask for commitment. So making sure you can transmission smoothly and effectively from the opening rapport building stages to the main sales presentation is important.

Sales People who lack experience or who are nervous will often transition in an awkward and ineffective manner paving the way for a disjointed main sales presentation, rejection and a quick exit without a commitment. Experienced and comfortable sales people will sometimes spend way too long on the rapport building stages boring their poor prospects senseless.

These sales people will discuss topics such as:

  • The weather
  • Sport
  • Global current affairs and news items
  • Local events
  • Industry developments
  • Family and schooling topics
  • Religion and personal topics
  • Their health and health of the prospect
  • The personal and professional lives of Kim, Khloe` and Kourtney Kardashian

Now the above topics can be useful rapport building topics but my point is there is a limit to the initial rapport building stage.

I heard that an extreme rapport orientated sales person once spent over an hour on sport alone, including Men’s, Women’s, Children’s, Olympic, National,  County and even lesser known illegal free range poultry fighting sports etc.

At some point of time the prospect or customer is going to start looking at their watch and wondering when you are going to get on with your sales process. It is important to define the transition from the early rapport building stages to the more serious and business steps of strategic questions and presenting features and benefits.

5. Tailor to your Primary and Secondary Target Markets

One of the reasons why personal selling is so effective is the ability to target the content and approach to the exact human on the receiving end of your presentation. This makes it obvious that there is a need to tailor your Opening Game Plan to your Primary and Secondary Target Markets.

It may be that you have several versions of your Opening Game Plan to cater for the different market segments that you engage with.

This is often the case for the retail selling environment where no matter how clear your desired brand positioning criteria is you will always have walk-ins who are not part of your targeted demographics. Having an Opening Game Plan that is tailored to less important market segments means that you are prepared to convert them as quickly and efficiently as possible when they do walk in the door.

Your Winning Opening Game Plan

When you have developed your own winning Opening Game Plan remember to take it out and practice it.  From there you will be able to further refine and improve it.  Also, don’t forget to regularly review and improve upon it at least once a year or even more frequently.  Customers, technology and the market environment are constantly changing and you need to get fast at responding. Also, reviewing your Opening Game Plan and other sales tools can make for effective and enjoyable sales training and development.





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