I've witnessed too many salespeople who possess an overinflated belief that they can just "wing it" on a sales call. Successful sales reps prepare--and in more ways than one. They prepare on multiple levels--from getting enough sleep the night before to organizing their collateral materials for a group presentation. Each item improves their chances of separating themselves from their competition and making the sale.

Here are 5 tips you can apply immediately:

  1. Write Your Questions. Never go into a sales call without having written out your questions. You should always have a "top 10 list" of good questions for qualifying or discovering a prospects perception of value. However, on follow-up calls, your questions need to be more specific to the prospects company, issues and objectives.
  1. Mentally Rehearse. There's a reason you are on this sales call. The prospect believes you may be able to deliver value to them. Focus your thoughts on walking through a successful sales call--engaging with confidence, seeing yourself asking questions, presenting your solution, closing the sale. Doing so reduces stress and makes the sales call a "deja vu" experience rather than a series of unexpected surprises.
  1. Verbally Rehearse. You want to make your very best first impression on everyone you might meet. How will you introduce yourself to the decision-maker? To influencers? To technical folks? Rehearse your opening statements, your value statements and your closing statements. Practice until you can deliver them naturally within a conversation and not sound scripted. Confidence will emerge.
  1. Anticipate Objections. Your prospect will have questions and objections. From what you know of their situation, anticipate what those might be. Ask yourself what you would say to a salesperson from your company if the positions were reversed. Generate your responses and be prepared to deliver them at the right time.
  1. Relax. Anxiety and fear moves the blood from the frontal cortex of your brain to the central region where your "fight or flight" impulses reside. Relaxing keeps the blood where it needs to be--in the front where awareness and decision making occur.

Great salespeople focus on exceptional execution of each step of the sales process to achieve their sales goals. Prevent sales call anxiety by taking control of your time and preparing for the success of your next sales call. It all starts in your mind.