I was at an industry event this morning with two senior technology executives talking about their “world”. In response to some pre-determined questions they were both very open about the kinds of activities/behaviors that they see from vendors … what works and what doesn’t. It seems almost unbelievable to me that people in their position would even have to articulate it, but it came through loud and clear that people waste their time! Vendors come to meet with them unprepared, with little understanding of their organizations and no real value proposition to offer.
Both of these executives work in the public sector, so there is no excuse for not knowing their world … it’s all available publicly!
So … here are some basic things to remember if you are going on a sales call …
#1. Do your homework.
If there is publicly available material about the organization then read it. Strategic plans, budgets, org charts, priorities are often available in the public sector.
If the organization has been in the press recently then understand the issues.
Understand if your company has any history there.
Understand any relationships that exist and what they are.
Understand how their environment fits with what you sell. If you have examples of how your company helped a similar project or client then come armed with that relevant information.
#2. Do NOT Waste Their Time.
Have a true business reason for your call. Getting an update from them about what might have changed in the last 2 months is NOT a valid business reason.
Have SOMETHING to offer. Knowledge about similar accounts, industry information, the results of a recent survey, anything that can be useful to the person you are meeting.
Be respectful of time … if it should be a 20 minute quick meeting don’t take an hour. Be punctual, be clear with your agenda, watch the clock to ensure you don’t overstay your allotted time!
#3. Find Ways to Bring Additional value
If you know there is a particular interest … could be a technology, a discipline, a hobby, a geographic region … look for related articles and forward them.
If there is a chance to share information the do so.
If you can make a connection for them then do it.
Look for little ways to help, with no expectation of something in return.
Make small commitments … and keep them!!! I will send you a copy of … by end of the week; I will set up that meeting by … ; I will get back to you with that name by end of business today! Etc.
Some other things to remember …
Your client will EXPECT you to be good at what you do. Do everything possible NOT to let them down, when you do win some business.
Things happen … IF something goes wrong, be visible, accept blame, do whatever you can to fix it! Very often the BEST relationships come out of a tough situation.
Too many salespeople see their clients as a “walking wallet” … they look at them and just see dollars. That is very transparent. Anything you can do to make their lives just a little easier will go a long way to your success.
It is strange to an old sales guy like me that I even need to write this stuff down … but I listened to two clients this morning, both of whom had that same message. Don’t waste my time! What a GREAT opportunity for those hard working, professional salespeople to differentiate themselves!!!