I had a client, Sarah tell me recently that she couldn’t work on her content for the week because she was too busy pulling together seven proposals for sales meetings. Seven! While her dedication is admirable and great that she had so many meetings to get to that point, this was just not a good use of her time or limited resources.
She also found sales challenging, saying she didn’t enjoy feeling like she was hustling. She was concerned about coming across as pushy and desperate, and really wanted to make it easier for herself.
As Mark Hunter, world-renowned thought leader on leadership and communications said, ‘It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right’. And spending all her time creating bespoke proposals for each sales meeting, was not going to get Sarah very far, very quickly.
There’s a better way. She needed to implement some strategies to make her sales meetings joyful..
9 Pillars of Joyful Selling
When you are thinking about how to implement sales meeting best practices as a consultant or thought leader, you have to think in terms of time — before, during and after the sales meeting itself, and connection — to yourself and your client. These are the two main themes, supporting the nine pillars.
Before the Sales Meeting
Before the sales meeting, you have to get clarity about who you are, what your expertise is and what you bring to the table. You need to know your own value.
Once you have that clear you need to turn your attention to your customer. Using empathy you need to consider what type of customer you’ll be talking to in your sales meeting. Understanding the customer will help you see the challenges that they’re facing and see how you can be of help to them. If you do this well, you’ll gain understanding, but if you don’t you’ll just start to feel pressure, worrying about what they might expect from you and how you can deliver it.
Next, you need to consider your positioning. Before the meeting, you need to know where you currently sit in the customer’s mind. Have they seen content from you before? This could be a blog, a whitepaper, a podcast or a book. Exposure to your content helps you to position yourself as an expert in their mind. On the other hand, if they haven’t seen any of your collateral, then you’ll just feel unprepared (and in that case, definitely bring it along to the meeting!).
During the Sales Meeting
If you’ve done all the work before the sales meeting then you can get there and be totally present. You’ll be able to have a calm focus on the problem of the client, and how you can help them. At this stage, your job is simply to lead the conversation and ask the right questions without applying unnecessary pressure. And that is how you get insight. Insight helps you translate what’s going on to gain a greater understanding of your client. Without this, your client will lose trust in you, and you will, ultimately, lose them as a customer.
Once you have an insight you’ll be able to help your customer make a decision. At this point, you provide them with your proposal and ask if this is helpful to them. You can help them determine what is right and find the next steps. In some cases, you might even end up sending them to someone else who can help them better than you can. But in most cases, you’ll be able to help. No matter what they say, this is also the point where you need to lay down the next steps — whether it’s a follow up meeting, a phone call or a date to get the work started.
If you don’t know the next steps then everything will just drag out affecting your sales and, ultimately, your revenue.
After the Sales Meeting
Once you’ve had your sales meeting you’re going to get a yes, or a no, or a maybe. And, at the end of the day, you have to get comfortable with any of those answers. But if you have a full pipeline, with leads coming in regularly and plenty of sales meetings scheduled, then a maybe, or even a no, won’t feel so bad. You won’t feel desperate to land anyone sale, because you’ll have plenty of other opportunities coming through.
If you get a yes, first give yourself a huge congratulations. You did it! But now is the time to do the real work. You need to make sure that you have all the right resources in place to deliver your program or solution. As part of it, you need to have a contract ready. That’s your job, not the client’s, and that will keep things moving. If you’re not ready to act, then your work will be delayed, and your cash flow will be impacted.
At this stage, you also need to consider who else will have an influence on the success of your program. To get the program across the line with just one person on board, it’s too easy to fall over and lose traction.
When it comes to delivering the program, you need to understand how you will identify the success of that program. It’s your responsibility to keep showing the value the program is generating to the customer. It’s important to remember that people have short memories and will forget where they came from. Having data to show the original goal and the current position can help keep momentum and keep you selling.
Completing one program isn’t the end of your sales process. At this point, your goal is to get back to number one. You might do this by speaking with other departments in the organisation you’re working in. But if you aren’t demonstrating value, you won’t be able to get that traction and move across departments. And if you are, you’ll be adding more to your sales pipeline.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Originally published at https://janeandersonspeaks.com on June 24, 2021.