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5 Sales Call Planning Tips Every Great Rep Should Know [Webinar Replay]

The 5 Best B2B Sales Call Planning Tips Every Great Rep Should Know [Webinar Recap]

B2B Webinar CTA

We were honored to host an actionable webinar about pre-call research last month on Thursday, October 25th, 2018. MediaRadar’s CEO, Todd Krizelman, shared the five simple pre-call steps that will help sales and business development reps from media companies, ad tech companies, and agencies plan for their next call, build the right relationships, and increase their revenue.

Below are the sales call planning tips for B2B reps.

1. Know Your Opportunity Thoroughly

So, you’ve identified your opportunity through a system of lead scoring and researched the specific person who you want to go after.

You may know your contact’s hobbies, university, and prior work experience, but do you know what specific role the person holds within the company? How does its job fit into the buying process? Does your prospect make all the final decisions or does it report to someone else within the organization who does? Do your research. The messaging of your pitch should change, depending on this person’s level of seniority.

Also, think about where your contact lives. Is its office in Los Angeles or Des Moines? These are two cities with very different character profiles. Los Angeles and Des Moines are in separate time zones and experience different weather conditions. As a sales rep, you need to be considerate when you make a call or leave a voicemail. If there are tornadoes where your prospect works, for example, make sure you’re being thoughtful of that when you’re picking up the phone.

Also, be as personable as possible when you pitch. Know the name of the company and the person who you are pitching. Don’t forget to check the pronunciation of these. Go online. Listen to them. It is very embarrassing if you can’t figure that out. It’s a a quick way to alienate the person.

Read the local newspaper as well. If you were going to go to a meeting in Omaha, for example, you should read the local Omaha newspaper. This will shows prospects that you truly care about them.

Now what?

What is Your Prospect’s Objective(s)? 

Of course, it’s not all about prospects themselves. It’s even more important to know about their company.

If you’re an experienced sales rep, you know that, when you meet with a client, you ask them a series of specific questions about their goals and that helps you, as a salesperson, figure out how you can offer the best solution.

But, it’s harder and harder to get meetings. There’s a scarcity of time. The more you can glean about your prospect’s objectives from the “About Us” section of its website, press clippings, its U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, and “Investor Relations” section of the website. the better off you are in just booking the meeting and putting your best foot forward with the best information.

Where Does Your Contact Advertise?

Where Do They Advertise?

If you went into MediaRadar and just typed in John Deere, for instance, you would find that the company advertised across seven different media formats between January 2018 and September 2018, focusing the majority of their spend on TV and print. It targeted different audiences within each format.

You’re going to want to ask – where does John Deere buy where the audience is similar to mine?

The sales reps who are making the most money are interested in seeing a company’s full marketing budget. It gives them a better sense of how much the company is spending with their competitors and their own or if the company has a huge budget for a new product.

What Audiences is it Targeting?

As an example, John Deere is focusing their print advertising within mostly B2B markets, particularly the agricultural industries of farming and grounds keeping. They go after the people who run or do landscaping at golf courses and universities.

We also see this on the consumer side. On TV, John Deere promoted their small tractors, leveraging affordable pricing and luxuries like AC and heat. These products are valuable to ranchers and farmers, as well as consumers.

As a salesperson, you want to be a knowledgeable partner. You need to understand what’s important to the company – is it advertising small tractors or affordable pricing?

Which Ad Format(s) Does Your Prospect Favor?

So often, we’re told to believe that digital is always up and print is always down. That’s sometimes true, but it’s not always. In 20% of cases, brands are loading up on print because it works. Year over year (YoY), there’s been a 25% increase. Does your prospect still prefer print?

Pre-Call Trend Report CTA

Does it Target Audiences Geographically or Demographically? 

When a company targets demographically, it means that it is interested in a contact’s job function and level of education rather than, say, that person’s gender.

John Deere is an example of a company that targets audiences geographically. Most of its audiences works on golf courses and in other agricultural efforts. Because golf courses and agricultural efforts happen more in certain parts of the country, the company targets geographically. More specifically, John Deere has major concentration in Iowa where there’s a lot of farming.

What is Your Opportunity’s Creative Like?

To understand a client and what its objectives are in real-time, you want to see the creative. Three or four years ago, we found that the type of advertising in media that a consumer brand would run and a B2B brand would run was very different from each other. Now, there are many instances where there is no difference at all. John Deere is a great example of this. It’s sophisticated. On the B2B side, it’s buying mobile, email marketing, sponsorships and events, native advertising (sponsored content), video, etc.

When you’re going into a pitch and you really want to win, do the research to uncover the message, tone, and who and what kind of person the prospect features in its ads. Also, know the specific products that the company is marketing, what the budget is for those, and how are they being purchased – in print, mobile, email, or events? Having this knowledge when you walk in the door will make you a better partner and a more appealing choice to your prospect.

What’s in the News? 

Always follow your prospects in the news. Remember to review your contact’s news, local news surrounding your prospect’s headquarters, as well as the overall industry to better understand economic impacts and shifting marketplaces.

2. Understand Your Prospect’s Advertising Strategy

7.6 percent

In B2B media, do publishers not pitch integrated buys? John Deere is an example. Very few media companies that the company works with get part of the buy in multiple formats. It’s segmented that way. They either win digital or print or another media format.

This is something that you would want to know before you go in, so that you can address it. How do I become one of the 7.6% who are getting cross-format buys?

What is Your Opportunity’s Renewal Rates?

Renewal rates determine what’s working and what’s not working for the customer. It’s a litmus test. It tells a company how it is doing right now.

The average renewal rate percentage in the B2B market is 45%.

Over the last two years, John Deere has high renewal rates in both print and TV. It renewed business with 70% of their highly specialized B2B partners like Golfdom, Equipment Today, and Successful Farming and also renewed business with 68% of their TV partners, including ABC, the Outdoor Channel, and The Weather Channel. The point here is that, if you’re a good partner to John Deere and the company likes you, then you’re going to re-win their business.

While John Deere may have print and TV success, it struggles more with digital, renewing only 21% of their business between 2016 and 2018. Some of its digital partners include Yahoo! Sports, Fox News, and AgWeb (powered by Farm Journal).

MediaRadar tracks renewal rates because it’s important. If you’re going to be a great partner to John Deere, you need to know what’s not working and understand why the company should choose you. Leverage the company’s uncertainty in digital partners and need to boost tractor sales as a point of entry.

3. Recognize Why Your Prospect Should Choose You 

What is its Audience?

What are the key reasons why your media company and your audience is the best fit for a brand?

Visualize the solution to the customer’s problem. How are you going to position its recommended campaign, frequency, and pricing to meet its objectives?

Talking about yourself is always the easiest. Understanding your client and listening is often where reps get tripped up.

What Will Success Look Like For Your Prospect? 


Understand what the campaigns are from the beginning and pinpoint the key metrics that are going to be evaluated. This last step is often left out. Don’t overlook it.

Increasingly, the most successful sales reps defined key metrics and really pushed in advance. You want to know this at the beginning and write it down somewhere. Some sales reps will even sign it. This is for everyone’s benefit.

What does success mean? Does it mean that the company sells a certain number of units from a campaign? If the company is Monsanto, for example, that could be more specific seeds or pesticides or, if the company is John Deere, certain tractor models.

Some B2B publishers also offer guarantees. If you’re going to market a certain value of dollars at a certain frequency, the company may stand behind you because it knows its audience well enough.

4. Know Your Competition

As Andrew Grove, former President of Intel, once said, “Only the paranoid survive.”

You want to know everything about your own competition. How does the audience as well as the quality and frequency of the editorial differ from yours?

Be Ready to Outshine Your Competitors

Don’t bring up your competition. It’s distasteful. Bashing your competitor is almost never helpful. The prospect might be spending money with your competitor, presumably because they thought it would be a good idea. So, be thoughtful.

Know the competition and differentiate yourself from them too. Know your differentiators, such as campaign, price, audience, and positioning, in case your prospect asks for them. If you can exhibit how you stand apart from your competitors, you’ll put yourself in a better position to win over any prospect.

Don’t Forget About The Client’s Competition


See if your competition has uncovered ways to capitalize on markets where, say, John Deere is performing below the industry average. How are you going to be a good partner in understanding your prospect’s objectives, so that you can talk about the marketplace really well?

Because B2B publishers know their endemic marketplace, you’re going to know company names like Kinze, Kubota, Fast AG Solutions, and Apache Sprayers by Equipment Technologies (ET). The question is: can you be really thoughtful? Do you know more than just the surface level of the competition?

Remember: You are helping your prospect solve a problem. Knowing how you can outperform your competition is important, but showing them how they can outperform theirs is paramount.

5. Be Able to Effectively Communicate Your Offerings

Motivation: 75% of executives have been prompted to attend an event or take an appointment as a result of a cold call or email.

Why Reach Out By Telephone?

While younger, inexperienced sales reps may disagree, reaching out via phone is very effective.

Of course, we all use emails and texts way too much. We’re drowning in it. How many companies still have a mailroom even? Sending a person a hand-written note or picking up a phone will help you stand out.

Reaching out by telephone can:

  • Make a Human Connection. Hearing a sale reps’ voice along with their tone, inflection, and conviction can help them seem more valuable to a prospect.
  • Get More Information from Prospect
  • Present Your Value
  • Get a Meeting to Earn Their Business Faster
  • Call Early in the Morning or Late in the Day. If salespeople make their calls between 7:30am and 9am in the morning and between 5pm and 7pm at night, they would be much more successful. That’s when people pick up their phones. They’re vulnerable.

Keys to Leaving Voicemails

B2B is unique – it’s about a very narrow market that is completely endemic. Sales reps aren’t robocalling millions of people. They’re mostly leaving voicemails, so be clear that you’re human and nice and that you’ll call back your prospect.

Also, be patient and persistent.

Remember: It takes between eight and ten cold calls attempts to reach a prospect. 

50% of sales reps dislike making calls. But, it is part of the job and it takes 20-30 total touchpoints (including marketing), even if the company knows you and wants to work with you.

Things to be aware of when leaving a voicemail:

  • Lead with the Takeaway
  • People Only Remember 4% of What You Say
  • Keep The Message Between Eight to Ten Seconds Long
  • Follow Up with an Email 

Connecting with a Live Person

Remember that you’re interrupting someone. Be humble.

44% of salespeople give up after just one call, so remember to be patient and provide new key insights in each voicemail. People don’t realize how hard it is to break through to a prospect – it takes a minimum of ten touchpoints to reach an opportunity.

Phone Tips:

  • Capture Attention Right Away
  • Having Talking Points Available that Relay Value
  • Ask for a Few Minutes and Schedule a Deeper Dive

Communication Through Email

Email communication should be clear, concise, and succinct. The better you follow that, the better the outcome.

Email Tips:

  • Lead with their Need
  • Less is More
  • 33% of Recipients Open Based on Subject Line, So Take the Time to Grab Attention
  • Ask for the Meeting and Be Specific When Scheduling

Always follow up your voicemails or phone conversations with personalized emails. Personalized emails improve click-through-rates (CTR) by 14% and conversation rates by 10%. This will help to reinforce your value.

It’s about more than just using your prospect’s name. Include your knowledge of the market or the customer in your emails to demonstrate that it’s personal.


As a B2B rep, these five sales call planning steps will help you better understand your prospect’s needs and know your value within the market. The best reps implement these five key learnings into their sales strategy. If you do the same, you too can break through the noise and get that meeting.