You have a meeting coming up with your largest prospect, you and your boss NEED this deal, so what do you do? You knuckle down and run through the myriad of scenarios of which way the meeting may go, preparing responses to every potential question under the sun. After all of effort, hard work and time you feel like you are ready and raring to go.
Next thing you start the meeting, build great rapport with the prospect. Things are right on track. Then all of a sudden you get thrown a curve ball which you hadn’t planned for…..just like that all of your planning is out the door and your best opportunity for the year has gone up in a puff of smoke. You know you are confident your product is a great fit for this prospect, so you try to overcome this curveball by telling your customer how good you could be and what impact it could have for their business. The prospects eyes are glazing over and you get caught up in the emotion of the situation and try harder again………next thing you know the meeting finishes early and you don’t have your quota crushing customer on board.
If this is your planning style then you need to change because you are making assumptions about the prospect and letting them run the meeting. Prospects don’t want you to think what their problem is, they want you to listen to the challenges they are facing, challenge them with insightful questions and come to a joint conclusion as to whether or not you are going to be able to solve their problem.
When looking at a successful customer meeting it takes 3 steps
- Get the basics right
- Make sure you are there on time and ready to go, whether that be online or in their office.
- Have your rapport building research completed. Know who is attending the meeting and what their role is, if you don’t know be sure to ask! There is a bunch of technology that facilitates this research – LinkedIn, Twitter, Rapportive, Discover.ly, Datanyze to name a few. You can find more here.
- Manage your meeting like a boss
- Running a meeting like a boss has traditionally been where cunning linguists (think Jordan Belfort) would run rings around the prospect, have them signing contracts in minutes and have colleagues jaws to the floor in awe. Not everyone has this natural skill, so for those of us in the majority we can follow a sales framework to facilitate the meeting.
- I like using a combination of Sandler and SPIN methodologies. Sandler creates mutual commitment which give you permission to ask the prospect the question you need to qualify and SPIN has a great conversational framework to ask those questions. A match made in heaven, just not one either of their practitioners will recommend. Following a framework enables you to get an outcome in the shortest possible timeframe. Keep an eye out for my future post on managing meetings like a boss to crush your number for how this works
- Follow up with purpose
- Whether you win, lose or advance the opportunity with the prospect there should be an objective with every meeting follow up. And there should ALWAYS be a meeting follow up when dealing with a prospect and do it promptly! Prove that you prioritise their needs and hold your commitments, you then have reciprocity and the ball is in their court.
Stay tuned for the ‘meeting series’ of posts where we will go deeper into the each stage respectively.