The Importance of Sales Call Planning in Laboratory Outreach Sales


Sales is a vital component of a thriving laboratory outreach program. It requires a unique skill set and a dedicated focus on advocating the value of your laboratory and its ability to deliver reliable, high-quality services to your community.

Sales teams have many approaches to educate and connect with customers, one of which is sales calling. I have asked Michael Hiltunen to provide his perspective on the importance of sales call planning and how it relates to the overall lab outreach program.

The post below was guest-authored by Michael J. Hiltunen, MBA, MT(ASCP), CLC(AMT), president of MedStar Consultants and the executive director of the GreatLakes Laboratory Network. Michael is a certified laboratory consultant and certified sales coach and trainer with over 30 years of experience working in hospital laboratory settings.

A successful laboratory outreach program will feature a robust sales process, methodology, and staff. Sales call planning is as an aspect of the sales process that is integral to success in sales and thus, outreach. To remain competitive and offer sufficient services to their communities, laboratory outreach programs must take the sales process seriously. The sales process is a sequence of activities that are predefined to convert a potential customer into a buying customer.

The lifeblood of any business is new customers. Outreach programs must face the inevitability of losing customers, which means being prepared to onboard new customers. If outreach sales representatives are not out looking for new customers day in and day out, their laboratory’s sales and profits will flatten out at best, and most likely decline as it loses market share to a competitor with a better sales process.

The first major differentiator of a successful sales process is how salespeople plan and execute their sales calls. A sales call can be the difference between a new customer and a lost opportunity, so planning for them is critical, just like any career. A salesperson shouldn’t walk into a sales meeting without doing their professional duty to prepare.

Sales call planning is made up of two parts: pre-call planning before each call and post-call analysis after each call.

Pre-call planning refers to the research process concerning the preparation for making a sales call. It is also the foundation of your outreach program’s sales strategy to help you create a plan to obtain your sales goals. This type of planning happens before the call and acts as a blueprint of how your sales call will go.

Good pre-call planning starts with the end in mind: What do you want to accomplish on the call? That means having clearly defined call objectives.

If the first major differentiator of a successful sales process is how well salespeople plan and execute their sales calls, the second differentiator is what they do with the results of those calls. Some of the most valuable lessons you will learn about selling effectively will come from closely scrutinizing the calls you make. After the sales call, conduct a meticulous post-call analysis to enhance your expectations regarding the quality of conversations you are making with your customers as well as learn what worked well in your call and what didn’t. This will allow you to constantly improve your skill set and improve your chances of future success.

Jane Hermansen

Jane Hermansen is living her childhood dream of being a laboratory professional. With a passion for community-based medicine, she has worked with hundreds of hospitals across the US in outreach program development and growth. She currently directs the outreach consulting activities for Mayo Clinic Laboratories.