I was at a sales meeting, with a product manager at an agricultural organization that delivers a highly specialized, niche product. Things were progressing as planned and I seemed to have offered exactly what he was looking for.
And then the customer asked a question: “Who else had you worked with who has the similar requirement?” Now, I’ve been working with 500 companies over the past couple of years, and I have worked in almost every industry and I doubted if there was a company that had the similar requirement.
I could have started babbling some random stuff and company names that I have worked with and tried to force a comparison. But, the product manager being in a niche product segment would have easily identified that I was making up the scenario.
To acquire the customer confidence, I had to make a sincere effort to be honest and tackle the situation. For that, I had to be equipped with a right sales application which would give me the complete insight of the customers with whom I have worked in the past.
It was a great turning point in the meeting to gain the confidence as well as the deal. Here is a valuable sales lesson embedded in this experience with respect to meeting preparedness. Have you ever had a buyer ask you an extremely technical or otherwise out-of- the-ordinary question early in the information-gathering phase? How about an outrageous request regarding capabilities or service?
I often see reps stumble all over themselves in these scenarios, because they don’t know the answer to the question, or are not effectively prepared for the meeting. They apologize and make excuses and in some cases reduce themselves to babbling fools because they assumed that what the prospect must not be well informed.
About 80% of the field sales reps who are successful on their very first meeting are the ones who are well-informed about what they are talking about and to whom they are pitching. In the present fast moving world, there is no second chance, it is the pro-activeness of the sales reps on the field that brings the deal at the very first meeting.