It has always been a goal of mine to convey a certain level of calm, cool, and collected in my everyday life and the conversations I have with others. In the ever-changing world of teleprospecting, I have found that one of the most important mottos to live and dial by is, “Over-prepare, and then go with the flow.” I have to give the original credit to Regina Brett, a 90 year-young columnist out of Ohio whose New York Times Bestseller, God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours is full of inspiring ideas and wisdom far beyond my 24 years of life experience. If you haven’t already checked this gem out, I’d highly recommend it.

Recently, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this idea of “Over-prepare, and then go with the flow” that Regina so eloquently includes in her list of 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours. I love the way it sounds. I love the idea of seeming unphased when speaking with a CFO or COO. Most of all, I love being able to extract the information I need from the person who makes these decisions at a company, and then being able to convince them that speaking with one of my reps will be beneficial to improving their processes. I have always considered my over-preparation to be twofold; On one hand, it can be a major waste of time. On the other hand, however, it contributes hugely to my success generating leads for my client. So I challenged myself, how can I find a happy medium?

For starters, I limit myself to only over-preparing for calls for a specific amount of time, usually 10-15 minutes max. Prior to a call, I start researching the person, and the organization. I leverage social media site like LinkedIn and Jigsaw to gain some background on my prospect. A lot of times on LinkedIn, professionals will list their proficiencies and skills. For example, if you’re calling into someone to understand their environment from a standpoint of managing employee compensation and performance, and you see on their LinkedIn profile that they have expertise in a certain Human Resource Information System (HRIS), you can use this information to have a targeted conversation around where the gaps in compensation management can be found while using this specific HRIS. In other words, you can put the conversation into realistic challenges that they may already be noticing, even if they don’t necessarily recognize them as challenges.

Another way I keep my over-preparation to a happy medium is by making sure that I only spend these 10-15 minutes on prospects  that I’m 90% sure are going to both take place, and be with the correct person. The best way I have found to accomplish this is to first determine if someone is the right person to speak with regarding XYZ, either by phone or by email. For example, if I catch Larry Prospect live on Wednesday, I usually explain that I am hoping to speak with him regarding XYZ, and then I ask if he has a few minutes now? I’d estimate that 9 times out of 10, I haven’t perfectly timed my cold-call to fit with his schedule, and so when he says “No, I’m in the middle of something,” I ask when a good time might be to follow up with him. Most people will then say something like, “How about next week?” or “Tomorrow would be better.” To this, I will respond with, “Okay, great. How about I’ll send you a calendar invite for a few minutes next Monday, and this way you can feel free to adjust the date or timing to fit your schedule, and I will be sure to follow up whenever is most convenient for you.” In my experience, prospects respond much better to you trying to speak at a time that works for them, rather than you trying to speak at a time that works for you.

These are only a few helpful ways to over-prepare for your calls, and I’m sure there are countless more. The main thing I want to stress to my fellow teleprospectors is this: If you do prepare for this job, and you prepare well, you can let the conversation happen naturally instead of making it feel forced. At the end of the day, in our line of work, we are trying to learn about the environment of the organizations that we’re calling into, not sell them our software. In my experience, it’s much easier to have quality conversations when you’re not speed-googling or frantically looking for information in the middle of a call. If you take the time to prepare, then you’ll find yourself much more relaxed and able to go with the flow of the conversation.