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Want to make sales calls that leave an impression? Prepare yourself.

This story appears in the January 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In Hollywood, rumor has it that Robert DeNiro is consistently one of the most prepared actors of our time. On the first day of shooting a film, DeNiro needs no script. His lines have been mastered. While the rest of the cast may fumble through their lines for several days, DeNiro is calmly prepared.

His preparation efforts should remind us that all performance presentations, including those in sales, are not spontaneous events. When the famed courtroom attorney Racehorse Haynes was interviewed by Texas Monthly magazine years ago and asked how he won so many cases, he claimed, "I am not smarter than other attorneys. I am just better researched and prepared."

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