All of the work your sales people are doing at the front of the sales process (identifying the right targets and making initial contact to get an appointment) is a waste of time if they blow the appointment. What needs to happen to make every appointment count?
Here are five (5) key goals every sales person on your team should focus on when they get in front of a prospective buyer:
1) Set Clear Expectations
A sales appointment isn't just about having a nice conversation and hoping a next step results.
Your sales people should make it clear - right at the beginning of the appointment - why they are there and what they want to accomplish.
Something as simple as "I have a lot to learn about your situation so I'm going to ask you a lot of questions; I'm sure you'll probably have a lot of questions for me; so let's ask all of our questions and by the end of our discussion if it seems like we might be able to help you we can talk about potential next steps. And if it doesn't make sense, I'll let you know. Does that sound fair?"
2) Ask Great Questions
Questions are the answer. Too many sales people show up and start talking about all the features and benefits of their product without ever asking the prospective customer what is important to them.
Instead of diving right into a demo or launching into a presentation, what would happen if your sales people asked questions that made the prospect think about their issues and challenges differently? What would happen to your revenue if your sales people were more memorable? Do they have the skills they need to drive this type of conversation and help a prospect discover the gap between where they are now and where they could be if they worked with your company?
3) Create Urgency
Will a prospect feel compelled to take action by the end of the conversation your sales people typically have during an initial appointment? Or will they politely say "thank you" and get on with the rest of their day? The questions your sales people ask...the areas they explore to identify issues and challeges....the way they summarize and recap what the prospect says...all of these things should drive the prospect to want to take action (whether with your company or with someone else). A run-of-the-mill demonstration or presentation doesn't do this.
4) Ask Questions 3-deep
When your sales people are asking great questions and creating urgency, make sure they don't rush through each issue in a hurry to get to the end of the call. Slow down!
Ask follow up questions. Ask questions about when the issues identified first showed up. What impact is it having on their business? What would they do if they didn't have theses issues? How would that translate to improved revenue or greater efficiency or stronger margins or a faster product launch? And what would that mean to their business? Chances are your sales people rush right past these issues and move onto the next area they want to explore. What would happen to your sales pipeline and the quality of your proposals if everyone on your sales team slowed down and asked at least 3 questions for every issue they uncover?
5) Concise Summary and Next Steps
After spending enough time asking questions and exploring each area (at least 3 questions deep), your sales people need to master the skill of summarizing what they've heard into clear, crisp bullet points that get right to the heart of the matter. At this point they should know whether or not it makes sense to discuss next steps. If the prospect doesn't have the types of problems your company can solve....or if they have these probelems but they are not urgent enough to be a high priority....stop the process and let the prospect know that while you might be able to help them eventually, right now may not be the best time to move forward. They will thank your sales person for being direct and honest. And if they had the right conversation (great questions, strong follow up questions, and a succintct summary of the situation) they will call you back when the timing is right.
And the other side of that coin is when the prospective buyer has urgent needs and is a great fit for your prodcut or service, the clear next step will be to talk about how you deliver, what the investment requirements and terms might be, and how you might work together. In other words, a qualification discussion.
Qualifying all of the areas necessary to move an opportunity forwared in a profitable sales process will be the focus of our next article in this series.
Sales Effectiveness & Improvement Analysis
How long is your sales cycle? Could it be shorter? What would your business look like if it were? Are your sales managers capable of coaching your team to set strong agreements at the beginning and end of each sales meeting they go to?
Need answers? Ask for a free overview of our newest tool - the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis™ - and we will follow up with you to find out if it makes sense to talk about helping your sales organization become more effective.