How many times have you walked into a sales call empty handed? Sure you might be carrying your notepad or maybe even an iPad, but other than those two things you’ve got nothing; literally and figuratively. Every time you walk in on a sales call it’s an opportunity for you to be the bearer of information and not just an order taker like everybody else. You see it everyday. In just about every office you walk into there will be a section of the bookshelf or a pile sitting on the table devoted to catalogs from fire equipment dealers. Obviously this means that every one of your competitors has called on this department in the past and will call on them at some point in the future. As salespeople we are nothing more than the value we bring to our customers. When you walk into a meeting empty-handed you’re not bringing much value to the meeting. Walk in with the latest and greatest in flashlights, a new boot or pair of gloves. It really doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s new and something to talk about. No new products. How about an article on the latest tactic or UL fire lab test results. Still nothing. How about a flyer for future regional fire training. Help the trainers spread the word about the program while at the same time becoming a go-to source for your customer. A few months ago I talked about the value of creating your brand as a salesperson. This is part of it. As humans it’s in our DNA to take that path of least resistance and in sales that is not preparing for calls. I’m sure that if a customer asks about a feature on your new SCBA you’re going to come into that meeting prepared. You may have even researched the competition so that you can speak intelligently about their product. So how about putting a little effort into your daily calls? Every week find a new product, article, or bit of info to take into everyone of your calls that week. Next week, find something else. How often you change up items depends upon your call frequency. This is nothing new. In fact it’s not even my ideal. It’s just something that I’ve picked up by going on thousands of sales calls with some of the best salespeople in the industry, past and present. Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for a product to start with get a Pathmaster Smoke Curtain. Many firefighters have read about them in Fire Engineering or heard them mentioned in classes but have yet to play with one. It’s an easy, quick demo and going back to what I was saying about salespeople being lazy, it’s lightweight.