What if we went away on holiday without checking the weather before we pack our suitcases? What could possibly go wrong? Wrong clothes/gear = can't enjoy all aspects of the holiday = unhappy people = waste of time and money. I highlighted 'time and money' because this is what seems to speak to sales people and I firmly believe that if sales people dont plan they are forgetting their own value and what their own time and effort is worth. Its easy for me to say because I pay for my own time and my own travel etc so when I go to see a customer I want to make sure I get a good return on my invested time.
I've acompanied many account managers in their role through the past 20 years and I watch how they can go into a meeting, have a good discussion and then leave with a list of things they must now do to keep their customer happy. Thats ok as it's part of their job, but what's not great is that they didn't get anythig back in return for the time they took to go and pay that customer a visit. These kind of visits are more 'customer service' visits in my view because a sales visit would be when a sales person leaves with more of a two way action plan. If sales people plan each sales visit/meeting/call, they are more likely to gain something more than a list of things to do from the customer and for the customer. I can see that my customers value their time too, and I know that if they are taking time out to see me, then they will have an agenda, so I ask myself 'what's my agenda?' If I havent got one then I'll leave with an empty suitcase and end up with a load of unforeseen baggage and extra work. Whereas if I had planned I could have taken the right gear to trade for the right luggage. I understand that sometimes that's what it takes to keep hold of an account but I also think that there can be plenty of additional gains to be had whilst a sales person is there. Even if its just a list of referrals.