Sales profession is undergoing radical changes while the buyer is in charge and technology is transforming the profession. The sales profession always changes, because sellers must constantly adapt to changes in economic, political, cultural and market forces. Here are 5 tips that every sales professional must pay attention to while meeting the prospects.
1. Understanding your prospect
Every sales meeting is unique. Whether you are meeting the same contacts for the second time or twentieth time, and every meeting is going to be different because the needs are different, goals are different, and interactions are different.
So, it is essential for the sales rep to spend time in preparing a new agenda for every meeting. This should be done after reviewing various details such as:
* Is there a definite purpose for this meeting? (For example, Am I meeting them about renewal of a contract or meeting them to present a newly launched product)
* What are the open opportunities I have with this account? Which of those are going to be discussed in this meeting? Do I have all the people who can make a decision on these opportunities?
* Where are my notes from the previous two to three meetings with this customer? Where are the Emails I received from them recently? Do those give a clue on what do they expect in this meeting?
* (In case my organization that handles support) What are the recent service requests created by this account? How quickly are they addressed? What is the feedback score by the client on those service requests? Are some requests still pending? Can I get some details about them, or better, close it before meeting?
* Did the client visit my site recently? If yes, what brought them to the website? How much time they spend and on which page(s)? (A good marketing system should be able to tell you this).
* Who are the similar clients (example: in the same geography, working on the same vertical etc.) buying?
* What does the news items/ social media updates of the company indicate? Can they get me some trigger points for conversation/ new opportunities?
These are only sample questions. Every industry is different, and every customer is different. You may add more questions, edit these questions and create your own raw material for making the perfect agenda; and then, spend that time researching these things. It helps to have clear goals before you walk in to meet the customer.
2. Understanding my pitch
Of course, I am selling the same product for many years. I can sell it with my eyes closed.
But, today’s customers are not going to buy anything with their eyes closed. They are looking for personal interactions. They prefer speaking to someone who understands their business and then matches a product, not the other way.
So, there is no limit to the number of enhancements you can do to your sales pitch. Keep improving it. Add few slides, remove some bullet points, rewrite some. Make sure there is no sense of templatization in your pitch. That’s what makes you unique.
While you are at it, share the presentation with your colleagues in your in-house collaboration system. Someone else selling to a similar customer/vertical may benefit from it.
Some people prefer an Email notification about a meeting. Some people prefer a text message or a Skype buzz.
Know your contacts. It makes sense even to capture this information in your CRM itself as “Preferred mode(s) of notification”.
On the day of the meeting, or a day before, depending on how good your contacts’ memory is, send a notification. Keep it short and sweet: 140 characters or less (Twitter style) is preferred.
Remember, you may have to send these notifications at different times to different people in different systems. See if you can automate these, there are many tools available which can do this for you.
Also, look out for responses to these notifications. If you want a decision-maker in an important meeting, and you didn’t hear anything back from her, no harm in sending a gentle reminder. But don’t be too pushy. Just make sure everyone walks to your meeting happily.
4. Reading materials
If you want your contacts to read something before the meeting, make sure you share it with them. It is not in your hands whether they will read it or not, but you must send it, and later give a brief about it before the meeting.
While sending marketing collaterals to contacts, follow these best practices:
* Attachments are easy, but you have zero control after the Email is sent. You can’t figure out who read them, when they read it, how long they read it, whom did they forward it to etc. which are important clues on the level of interest for your pitch from the customers’ side. So, instead of using attachments, use your organization’s content management system/document sharing platform which provides links to share, and every click is usually captured with detailed reports on the usage.
* Another reason to avoid attachments: They can be bulky. You don’t want your contacts to skip reading your content because it takes too much time to download. Do you?
* Also, make sure your Emails and documents are mobile friendly. Many of your contacts will read them on a mobile phone first.
* Don’t confuse marketing materials (background for the discussion) with your pitch (actual discussion). If you share everything before the meeting and expect them to understand, make a decision and walk-in to the meeting with a purchase order in hand, wake up!
5. Carry your presentation kit
It may be few simple slides or a brochure or a product sample or a piece of the handwritten document or a video on a tablet device. Make sure your presentation kit is ready. Test it thoroughly, preferably on a network outside your office (if your presentation kit needs internet connectivity)
Also, in the case of mobile phone/ tablet/ any other electronic device based demonstrations, make sure the devices have enough battery life. Alternatively, you can carry a power bank with you always.
If you are demonstrating the web or a mobile application, it also makes sense to open the important pages in advance, before you walk into the meeting so that you can quickly jump to those screens instead of clicking and waiting.
Depending on the importance of the meeting, it is always an excellent idea to practice it in advance. If it is possible to run through your presentation to a customer representative before the actual presentation to the CXO, you can get some valuable inputs on how to pitch right.
Your work before a sales meeting makes sure that you have the advantage even before the first word is spoken. Use it right, close more!