It's 10 minutes before your next sales call. If it's a phone call, most people are rushing around trying to squeak out as much "other work" (read: procrastination) before getting it over with. If the meeting is in person, most are sitting bored and inactive in the waiting room.
On the other side is the prospect - most likely a professional who wants to be efficient with their time and is hoping you are not going to bore them to tears. Sound familiar?
In marketing strategy meetings, CEOs, VPs and small business owners alike ask me for advice as they coach their sales teams. In all things sales, I refer to my tried and true business coach, Brett Baker for real advice. He takes the cliches out of sales and delivers strategies for success. With his guidance, I've learned these 5 critical "must-dos" 10 minutes before important sales calls:
1. Do Your Research
I am always surprised by how many sales people miss reviewing even the basics of relevant customer data before walking into an appointment or picking up the phone. Most websites provide an amazing amount of information that would enlighten the conversation. Being prepared with a probing question is really not possible without this proactive work.
TIP: Connect with them on LinkedIn ahead of time.
2. Establish an "Up Front Agreement"
This can be as simple as reviewing the purpose of the meeting, the length, their agenda and your agenda. This creates a truly equitable understanding that the meeting is for all parties and focuses everyone on the desired outcomes. Keep in mind, the outcome may simply be to determine if you should ever talk again or not. The client may decide your product/services are not right for them, but you also have the right to decide if this is the right client for your company.
3. Get in Touch with Your Fears and Concerns
Sales people frequently are all too happy to fit into the "be positive at all times" mold. Unfortunately, this keeps many from addressing concerns about the relationship BEFORE they come up. Showing you are in touch with legitimate concerns will clear the smoke and give everyone a freedom to acknowledge that there are indeed potential pitfalls.
It may even sound like, "I know we just met, but my concern is that you are going to only want to tell me what I want to hear. If you get to a point in this conversation where you feel we are not a good fit, will you be able to tell me that candidly?" This kind of honesty and permission is so appreciated and builds rapport immediately, which leads to concrete trust.
4. Know What You Need to Know
Show up for the meeting with 5 concrete questions about your prospect, their company, their goals, their stresses and their decision making process. This preparation really helps when the prospect is not talkative just as much as when the prospect is overly talkative. With this information in hand, you'll leave the meeting with what you need to understand about their current situation and determine if you can help.
Most importantly, find out WHY they took your appointment and what they were hoping you could do for them. When in doubt, don't gloss over details. Get curious and dig into what you need to know in order to discover, and help the prospect discover, if your products or services are actually the right fit for their goals.
5. Decide How to End the Meeting (and make it clear)
Sales meetings can be incredibly short or long, but they all should end with a clear idea of the next action steps for both parties. Too many times the vague, "We'll get back to you," or "I'll let you digest this and get back to you soon," are the end of the meeting. Sadly, they typically become the end of the sales cycle as well. Don't waste your time without a very clear next step which means something to both you and the prospect.
While many of these concepts take longer to master, they can serve as a quick checklist right before a call. Completing these 5 tasks can be the difference between being seen as "just another sales person" and a "trusted advisor."
If you're ready to take the guesswork out of marketing, well-defined buyer personas are the answer.
Want to get clear about your most ideal client? We created this template to help.
This post was co-written with Brett Baker, CEO of Trustpoint Management, a Sandler Training Company. Brett is just about Priscilla's favorite person and she credits most of her success to his superpowers of wisdom, patience and authenticity. He is the source of her often repeated mantra of "CTOBT" (Couldn't the opposite be true?). Listen in on their last recorded session here!