Meeting prep for successful salespeople

May 12, 2015 -  By
iS40695812conference-table Photo: ©istock.com/miki1991

Photo: ©istock.com/miki1991

While riding to a sales call, I asked the young salesman, “What’s the goal for this meeting?” Meet with the guy! “What’s your agenda?” Talk about the job! “Why should he hire you?” Because he likes us! “OK, but what objections might he have to hiring you?” What do you mean—objections? “If he has objections, what’s your negotiation strategy?” What do you mean?

The call did not go very well, although the salesman thought it went OK. I followed up later… He never closed that opportunity.

The most successful salesmen prepare for every call. They have a goal, an agenda, answers for potential objections and a negotiating strategy. They may commit this plan to written notes and/or visualize it. I prefer writing it to winging it. Yes, there may be some sales you close due to your charm and good looks, but most are the result of preparation.

Let’s break down the process. This process applies to any call, email, phone and face-to-face.

Goal. In a “sales cycle” there are only two possible goals for a call: 1). Get a decision (yes or no) or  2.) Get an advancement (a promise on both sides to actions that will result in a decision later). Before you make the call, determine your goal.

Agenda. Set the agenda for the call. I prefer to do this in an email before any phone or face-to-face meeting. Every call has three parts: 1). Beginning—set the purpose of the call (discovery of needs, management of objections, negotiation of contract, etc.); 2). Middle—discuss the issues related to the purpose; and 3). End—get a decision regarding the purpose. This process keeps the call “on track.”

Why. The prospect needs to trust you more than he or she likes you. Even if the prospect does not ask “why,” you must provide reason and proof. It can be as simple as: “Our clients do business with us because we meet their production schedules. They find this saves them money and hassle. Is this important to you for this job?” You must address what they value—honestly and directly.

Objections. Before any prospect makes a purchase they want two things: 1). A good deal (that’s why they almost always bring up price) and 2). The feeling that they’re not making a mistake by hiring you. Objections and normal prepurchase concerns are natural. Visualize their objections and have ready responses. I have addressed this in a previous column (read it at buff.ly/1GDE6JX), but in review: Validate the objection, explore the objection, then make a suggestion to address it.

Negotiation. Know how much you’re willing to negotiate price before you get on a call. You may never have to negotiate it—especially if you do a good job with objections—but know where you “have room.”

If you provide a price concession, request a concession from them, like schedule flexibility, material types or quantities or simply a signature on the dotted line.

 

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About the Author:

Kevin Kehoe, a longtime landscape industry consultant, is managing partner at Aspire Software.

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