Ever walked out of a sales meeting and thought, “That didn’t go as planned…”?
You get in your car and you’re driving back to the office and in your head you keep going over all the things you could have said but didn’t say.
You’re not alone. Many salespeople walk into meetings and completely miss the mark with their customers. Even though they have a great product or solution, and it is a good fit for the client’s needs, they struggle to get their customers on board, and to try or buy whatever it is that they’re selling.
So, what do you do to change this? What do you do to ensure that you have a killer sales meeting every single time?
A sales meeting can be a daunting experience if you’re unprepared.
If you haven’t done your homework, every response that you get from the customer’s end becomes unpredictable. That makes your answers unpredictable.
As a result, the meeting takes its own course and you, as the salesperson, lose control. And then, closing the deal becomes a matter of chance.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, it cannot be the case if you have targets to hit or a business to grow.
Here are a few tips for you to apply before and during a sales meeting to ensure that the deal is a surefire YES:
Research is key
Before you go into that meeting, gather as much information as you can on your customer and their business, the industry they operate in, and the general trends and pressures they are subject to.
Know their products and services, their target audience and their competitors. Give them the confidence that you understand their business and their struggles, so that when you present a solution, they’re already in a place of trust and comfort with you.
Contacts and connections
Look for people you know inside of their organization. If you do, let your contact know that you are developing an opportunity at their company.
Try and ask them for any information that they can share, that might help you in your meeting. When convenient, you can ask them to put in a quick good word for you with the department or decision maker you will be dealing with.
Clear agenda, clear objectives
Set a clear agenda for your meeting, and share it with your customer beforehand, if possible. You should have a clear idea about the objectives of your meeting, too. Remember, it takes about seven touch points – meetings, phone calls, e-mails –before you get around to closing a sale.
The objective of your first meeting might be just to understand the customer’s problems, and explain your solution. The next might be to present your proposal. The third meeting might be to negotiate. Know what stage you’re at, and the objective of every meeting.
Get your customers talking
Keep the meeting interactive – ask questions, and get your customer talking about their business, their industry and their customers.
Focus on their problems
It is your job to use the right questions to get your customers talking about their problems. Spend time on understanding those problems, and bring to their attention (if they don’t see it already), the cost of not addressing those problems right away.
Bring value to the table
Throughout the conversation, find ways that you can add value to them even before the actual sale or deal takes place. Can you think of a book or an article that might help them, that you can send them a link or a copy of? Can you think of a potential customer for them, and make a quick introduction? Perhaps you can invite them to a trade fair, an exhibition or a networking event that would be relevant for them. In any way that you can add value, try and do so.
Clear next steps and a timeline
Do not, under any circumstances, leave a meeting open-ended or with ambiguous next steps in the process.
Always define clearly what will happen next, whether it’s booking a second meeting to present your proposal, or them discussing your solution with the team and coming back to you, and set a timeline for that next step.
Follow that timeline, and respond in time. Send them a timely reminder, if there’s any follow-up action on their part.
Following these steps will ensure that you’ve set the stage for the deal to come through. It also shows the customer that you’re prepared, confident, detailed in your efforts, and that they are in good hands.
All of this just makes it a little easier to close that deal.
About the Author
Ramez Helou is the founder and CEO of The Academy for Sales Excellence. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org