Posts Tagged ‘sales management’

At a recent customer meeting I had forgotten to brief my technical side-kick on my planned approach to the discussion.  I had assumed, wrongly, that our long working relationship meant I didn’t need to re-iterate the plan.  Upon leaving the meeting he exuberantly told me how brilliant it was – one of the best meetings he had ever had!  Yet my head was hung low, despondent at the great opportunity we just threw away.

This chap is highly competent technically, and a great presenter to boot. However he has a tendency to drown the customer in information that he thinks is relevant to their business problem.  In fact he will tell them a great deal of useful information, describing our products and services in a massively coherent, erudite and entertaining way – using stories to illustrate his point (I taught him that).  He just  forgets to check its relevant, and doesn’t always notice they have stopped listening – or in some cases, fallen asleep.

The thing is, customers like to talk too – and I classify a meeting as “great” when I’ve been able to do a lot of listening, questioning and understanding, resulting in my ability to coherently replay their Demands together with a solution that satisfies them.

Unfortunately too many of the people judge a great meeting to be one where they have done all the talking and the customer has done all the listening…or should I say hearing.

This is telling, not selling.

So here is some simple things that everyone who helps sales people sell should think about in customer meetings:

  1. Before the meeting, remind the sales person you need to be briefed.  Even if they have not thought about the meeting, this allows you to help them help themselves.
  2. If they have not got a coherent brief, give them one.  But be prepared to change your views to be in line with the salesman’s approach he will create based on yours.  Remember that you don’t get fired for failing to bring in revenue – he does, but you will get a bad reputation if you consistently veer from the planned approach.
  3. Before the meeting prepare some really insightful questions that will stimulate a conversation with the client.  This helps to ensure you are not the only one talking.
  4. If you notice you are doing a lot of talking – and its not a stand-up presentation – start asking questions instead.  Even meetings about concluding business should be interactive, not just you pitching your wares.
  5. Finally, check occasional that what you are saying is making sense to the client in their terms.  Just because you understand what you are saying does not mean everyone else does.  I will deal with this in another post soon.

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