Jump to Navigation [n] Jump to Main Content [m] Jump to Footer [f] List of all Access Keys [k]

The Hoshin Group

Leadership and Executive Coaching

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

It’s All About Them–Not YOU!

You researched the company, polished your resume, practiced your pitch, pre­pared stellar Power Point slides, put on your best suit, arrived early, distributed quality printed docs, and talked, talked, talked about how wonderful you and your company are and what you can do for the prospect. You noticed the prospect has a signed Mets baseball; you pat yourself on the back for weaving your love of the game into the conversation. You feel you aced the meeting, start to pull out the contract and are shocked when the client says “Thank you, we’ll be in touch.” You know the phone won’t be ringing.

What went wrong? Your focus was off. You pitched the client. A successful sales presentation is not an advertise­ment delivered in person—it’s a conver­sation all about them, helping to draw out their problems and wants so you can address them. Ideally, the client should be talking 80% of the time.

LISTEN FIRST. Get your customers talk­ing, and you’ll learn the best ways to meet their needs. Active listening is the most valuable tool in a successful salesperson’s toolbox, including subtle signals like body language. A good way to bring everyone’s voice into the room at the beginning of a meeting is to ask each person to give a one minute introduction including tenure with the company, their title and their role in this project. This information will help you identify the influencers and the decision makers and to appropriately direct your questions in the meeting. At this stage, simply share a 10 second overview of your company and a succinct and relevant 50 second story on how you’ve successfully helped another client with a similar issue.

Focus on the big picture. Next, talk about them—their company, its vision, strategic objectives, 5-year plan, and how this project fits into these goals. Ideally, you would have gotten some of this information prior to the meeting, helping you to begin to understand their true needs and business objectives. If this is the case, listen to the client and clarify what you think you already know.

Sometimes a client will start a meeting by saying “show me what you’ve got.” Don’t let this undermine your focus to learn about them. An effective response is “I’ve been in the industry for a long time and have many success stories. That said, I think you will find informa­tion that is pertinent to this project more useful. Can we speak about your specific challenges?” During the conversation, confirm your understanding by periodi­cally repeating back information they’ve shared (e.g., “So you’re telling me that you’re goal is to increase sales by 20% and you need tools to help you do that. Do I have that right?”) This shows the client that you are listening to them and seek­ing to understand their needs.

Get Specific! Often what the client ini­tially thinks they need may not be what will actually drive their success. To really get to the root of the issue, it’s important to ask open-ended questions both about the current challenge and how they’ve handled similar situations in the past. The information you learn here will help you to understand their expectations and formulate a customized solution using language that resonates with the client. Steer clear of questions that can be an­swered by a simple yes or no.

Now it’s Your Turn. Now that you have a good idea of the client’s “prob­lem”, it’s your turn to talk – your 20%. Now is the time to discuss why and how your product or service is the best solution. This is a good time to repeat the client’s “problem” – in fact, take it a step fur­ther and re-frame it more positively, as a quantifiable business “opportunity.” You might also share another very brief success story of how you’ve helped a client overcome a similar challenge. Re­member, every client’s “opportunity” is going to be unique, so you don’t need to share an example of how you’ve solved that exact problem – just how you’ve handled similar situations and handled them well. The stories and illustrations you share will help your client to connect to you and understand what it might be like to work with you. Just make sure you are able to share your stories succinctly and in language that resonates with your target client!

Success Defined. Success starts with you. Ask yourself, what does “wild suc­cess” at the end of this meeting look like? How do I want the client to feel and what do I want them to know, believe and do at the end of the meeting? Have a clear vision of your desired outcome be­fore you even set the meeting; this way, every action you take along the way will be aligned with your goal, setting you up to close the deal. For an initial sales meet­ing, some elements of success might an­swer the questions, “Did I …?”:

  • establish a rapport with the client with them talking more of the time
  • show up as a solution
  • discuss any foreseen challenges to meet those objectives
  • interject in a conversational style stories about how I’ve helped other clients accomplish similar goals
  • discuss the project time-line, determine their budget, and confirm next steps, including accountability and timing

Above all, have fun! Be authentic and passionate about your work and the value you bring to businesses like your client’s. If you believe in yourself, it will make it a lot easier for them to believe in you as well. And remember, it’s not about you. Show up as a true business partner, appealing to the client’s sense of enlight­ened self interest, helping them to see that you CARE about them and are fo­cused on their needs. If you care, they’ll care. And that will be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

No Comments Yet

You can be the first to comment!

Leave a comment

Logged in as: . Logout