November 21, 2008

Before Your Next Sales Meeting Consider This...

Before you race off to your next sales meeting, what type of meeting
have you in mind? Is that what your customer is expecting and how
effective will it be.

There are lots of different types of 'sales meetings' and
understanding the differences between them is key to success.
However, salespeople and sometimes even the customer get it wrong,
with the result being a mismatch of expectations. Here are two classic

1. A buyer makes an enquiry and the sales person visits as a result.
The sales person arrives expecting to listen and engage with the
customer to explore his needs and requirements, but it does not turn
out as planned:

- To his surprise the buyer is withdrawn and says very little. It
becomes more like an interview of the salesperson, than a two way
conversation, or exploration of needs. The salesperson ends up doing
most of the talking and leaves confused about why the buyer even
wanted to meet.

- Worst still the sales person arrives to be led into the board
meeting, introduced to a number of people from the buyers side and
shown where he or she can connect a laptop in order to deliver a

2. A sales person arrives to meet a potential customer for the first
time. After a few short pleasantries, the salesperson powers up
his/her laptop and launches into a slide presentation about his/her
company and its solutions.

After a dozen slides the buyers eyes glaze over, but with a lot more
slides to get through the sales person does not even notice. When the
presentation is over the buyer wants to get out of the room as quickly
as possible.

The sales person has used up all the time talking about himself and
has found out little about the buyer and his requirements. Because
he/she delivered a presentation before finding out what the customer
wants, there is no way of ensuring that the content of the
presentation reflects the requirements of the customer.

All too often when a sales person visits a prospect the objective is
to deliver a sales presentation – a slide show, or powerpoint
presentation. But, although that is the most common approach, it is
suited to only a small proportion of all sales meetings. The problem
is that it means the sales person ends up doing most of the talking.

Successful sales meetings are conversations - purposeful two-way
conversations that explore needs, the implications of those needs and
the potential solutions that can address the same. The word purposeful
is important here – in that you have giving the buyer a reason to meet
and that reason is clear. There is no mismatch of expectations.

For almost all sales meetings the salesperson almost always does more
listening than talking, although the balance can shift as the sales
cycle / relationship develops.

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