The focus here is a subject that I know resonates with clients. It is also a subject that I remember struggling with as a young salesperson.
Sales calls need to be about the client, not about you, your company, your product or service.
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” Seth Godin
We get taught this early … but then we get inundated with training about our product or service; our differentiators; our key messages; our pricing discounts; our elevator pitch and any other number of things that we are supposed to talk to clients about.
There is not a lot of time spent on the client side of things. Perhaps the assumption is that we will identify a potential client and they will be so happy to see another salesperson that they will just sit and listen to our wonderful pitches and obviously write a cheque? (Excuse my cynicism here).
“Make the customer’s problem your problem.“ Shep Hyken
So what is it that we should be doing?
“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.” Wilson Mizner
I don’t profess to have all the answers, but here are some thoughts to be going on with:
We all know what assumptions do … so NEVER assume that the person you are talking with has the same exact problem as the last person you talked with.
You need to get a prospective client talking about their business issues, that relate to your product or service. One way to achieve this is with an agenda that outlines the kind of issues that might be relevant.
The great salesperson will get their client talking, and will listen carefully (without interrupting).
A salesperson needs to establish some credibility with a client. This can be achieved in many ways, and might have been partially achieved because the client granted the meeting. Credibility might be proven by bringing appropriate knowledge to the meeting, or perhaps experiences of similar clients. It might be because of the company credibility, or through a referral. If you leave the meeting having never established some credibility your chances of ever coming back are diminished.
A salesperson should try to establish some rapport with the client. Again this can come in many different “flavors” and can be a personal type of rapport or a professional type of rapport … depending upon your own style.
Salespeople need to know when they are talking too much. We tend to get excited and then we talk, and talk … and talk! Watch for the glazed over eyes, but better yet have a watch in front of you that tells you how long you have been talking.
If you did your sales training well, then you will have goals for the meeting … but don’t meet your goals at the expense of the client. Understand what goals the client might have, and help them to meet their goals.
You need to be able to have a peer to peer conversation with the client about the subject of the meeting. You must be confident or you will lose that hard earned credibility. Always remember that this is your area of expertise, and most likely just one of many areas your client needs to address. If you feel out of your depth then take a manager!
If you have something of interest to the client then establish next steps before leaving the meeting. Once you lose their attention they will be focused on the 101 other priorities on their desk.
Always follow up. Thank the client for the meeting. Meet any obligations made in the meeting. If possible send something of value such as relevant market data, relevant articles or subject matter knowledge that will help the client.
“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.” Bob Hooey
By delivering value to our clients we will eventually become winners!
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” Bob Burg