Two Brains Are Better Than One – Take a colleague to your sales meeting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we deconstructed the sales process in Never Be Closing, we started with the face-to-face meeting, the most important event in the sales process. We worked backwards to the beginning of the sales process, and forward to the steps that help you mine the meeting to build a productive relationship. You could argue that the whole sales process is built to leverage the face-to face meeting. Preparing well and debriefing all have the goal of increasing the impact of the face-to-face meeting.

One way to leverage your face-to-face meeting and increase it’s impact is to go with a colleague. It requires a bit more structure, because you now have two mouths instead of one. The risk is that you and your colleague do twice as much talking and only half as much listening.

So have roles for your meeting. One person, the person who has a better sense of meeting process, and what content they want to get out of the meeting, plays the role of the leader. The other plays the role of the listener. The meeting leader does the lion’s share of carrying the conversation for the sales team, which is mostly asking questions.

The listener observes and listens to the client’s responses and reactions without the burden of having to contribute to the conversation. The listener also takes notes.

Good notes are critical to getting the most out of a meeting with a client. Because it’s not easy to lead a productive dialog and capture what was said, the listener pays a big dividend in leveraging your meeting. When you take notes by yourself, notes are cryptic- you can’t leave the conversation to write things down. With a partner, notes can be copious.

Since the listener has more mental bandwidth to think about the ramifications of what the client is saying, the note-taker/listener will often have follow up questions that the meeting leader will have missed. As meeting leader, ask the note-taker if they have any questions before moving on to a new topic.

One useful technique is that instead of introducing yourself, you can introduce each other. It allows you to be more playful in your introductions. Plus, you might learn something about how you’re perceived by letting your colleague introduce you to your client.

The most powerful benefit to going to a meeting with a colleague is debriefing the meeting with your team. This is where two brains are so much better than one. With two people who attended the meeting, you’ll remember different things and come up with more and different ideas to reach out to your client. And, you’ll have better notes with which to work.

The ideas from this post come from Tim and Tim’s book Never Be Closing.

How to Get INSTANT CREDIBILITY — Still time to register!

welcomeOn Tuesday November 25th Never Be Closing author Tim Dunne will join two other experts to deliver highly effective insights on How to GET INSTANT CREDIBILITY With the Best Prospects.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
— Stephen Covey

Please join us if you want to:

  • Understand the 8 pathways to Credibility with new client prospects
  • Get the data on what works and what doesn’t when you try to connect with people who may represent new business.
  • Overcome the biggest killer of your sales opportunities
  • Learn the Trigger events that happen in organizations that create receptivity to a change in vendors.
  • Spend less time with those who will eventually buy from your competition.
  • Learn how to be deliberate and strategic about ‘small talk’.

Register even if you can’t make the live event because this webinar will be recorded and all registrants will receive a link to the recording and each speakers slides.

Click here to register for How to Get INSTANT CREDIBILITY with the Best Prospects.

Meet in Your Salesperson’s Office (a post for clients)

openMost of what we write is for salespeople (though we have always said that Never Be Closing is a sales book you’d want your clients to read).

Most of the time the salesperson visits the client. There’s an investment in travel time and expense, and it’s appropriate that the party looking for the business rather than the party who has it to offer incurs that cost. Plus, good salespeople like to meet in their client’s workspace. They see more and learn more by being at your site than somewhere else.

But here’s a question for you, clients.

When would you go to a salesperson’s office for a meeting?

It’s not such a bad idea to meet at your salesperson’s office, especially if you think there is a good chance you’ll be working with them.

Here’s why…

  1. You’ll actually see and meet the rest of the team who will be providing your service. You’ll often get better service from the support staff if you are more than just a name on a list, or worse, a number in a spreadsheet.
  2. Often, you’ll get a chance to meet the sales manager or someone at the C-suite level.
  3. It’s a way to show commitment to your service provider. People appreciate that.
  4. You can learn a lot about your sales representative by seeing his or her office and how their colleagues relate to them.
  5. And, you can get up and leave when you think the meeting is over. It’s easier to execute your own departure than to shoo a tenacious sales person out of your offices.
  6. Try it.

The ideas from this post come from Tim and Tim’s book Never Be Closing.

Status

seesawIn the world of improvisational theatre, actors have discovered a tool to make improvised conversations more lifelike. They introduce into a scene the concept of status. One character adopts a lower status role and the other a higher status role. In theatre status is a tool. In real life status just happens. The adoption of a status is not pejorative. It just is. And that’s the reason status makes a conversation more real. Because, however subtle and changing, every human interaction has a status component to it.

Different situations have different status codes. For example, think about the person who works the door at a bar or club. Imagine, the guy checking ID’s at a half-full sports bar in a university town. Now imagine, a long line at a Manhattan techno club and three huge bouncers dressed in black with headsets on. Depending on the context, the status of the bouncer can be very different.

How about a waiter at Chili’s?

“Hi, I’m Bill. I’ll be your server for tonight.”

Will Bill generally take a higher status role or a lower status to his customer?

If one party doesn’t know the code, as often happens when we go to a different country or culture, it can be great fodder for tension, and hence improv. Take a professional waiter at a Parisian café? It’s his career. He knows the menu, the food, and how it’s prepared like the back of his little black vest. He doesn’t rely on tips. Plus he’s Parisian. He has a reason to adopt some level of status. (If you want to ramp up the status of the service employee even further, imagine a seasoned sommelier at a fine Parisian restaurant.)

The Paris café waiter is a classic status riff for Americans. The snooty waiter starts high status, has a comeuppance, and ends up being obsequious to the client he was snubbing. We Americans love that storyline. We expect the waiter to take a lower status role to the customer, and when he doesn’t the story has tension.

You naturally play status games all the time. If you made breakfast for a friend and served his eggs, you might say playfully, “Here’s your eggs, jerkee.” (high status) Or you might present them with a flourish, “Your breakfast, your highness.” (playing low status to your friend)

As a salesperson, what status do you take when you visit a client?

Usually, entering your client’s office, you’ll offer the higher status role to your client. It’s their space. Your client probably acceded to your request for a meeting. It’s entirely appropriate and normal for you to offer the high status role to them.

Taking the low status role doesn’t mean that you have no control. You’re the one who has experience with sales meetings. You should control the process. And the best way to take control is to ask for it.

“I have a process I follow in client meetings. It involves me asking questions so I can figure out if I can be useful to you. Is it ok with you if we follow that process for the meeting?”

Most people will say yes, or they’ll say, “Actually, there are some things we want find out.” And they’ll tell you the key items on their agenda — useful information to have. (Deferring the high status role to your client, and asking for process control has already paid you a dividend.)

Paradoxically, one way you know you are making progress is when your client grants you a higher status. For example, your client recognizes your expertise and asks you questions about which they are curious or concerned. Remember, the goal isn’t to be high status, the goal is to be useful to your client. The shift from low to high status is just one sign that you are being useful.

The ideas from this post come from Never be Closing. We hope you found them useful.

7 Reasons to Meet Your Client at a Neutral Location

parcs-american-diner-02 2The best place to meet with your client is at their office or work location. There is so much you can learn just by being in their workspace with their colleagues that it’s usually worth it to go to your client for a meeting. We have written a number of posts about why meeting in your client’s office is useful, and how you can leverage being in their workspace.

The exception, however, makes the rule. A neutral location can have advantages. Here are seven:

  1. It’s often less formal. A meeting at a restaurant or a café or an industry conference is usually a more informal environment than an office. It’s a more personal experience that can be more conducive to starting a relationship.
  2. Your client will be less distracted. The office has lots of reminders of things they need to get done, not to mention the possibility of interruptions by co-workers for tasks unrelated to your meeting.
  3. It’s geographically desirable. It can save you time to meet at a place that works for them and is nearer to a place you have to be anyway.
  4. It might imply a higher level of commitment. Rather than just being in their office when you come by, your client is making an effort to meet you.
  5. You can pick up the check. Everyone likes to be treated.
  6. It’s easier to leave. If the meeting turns out to be a waste of time, it’s easier to depart when you’re not being hosted by your prospect in their space.
  7. Because your prospective client also knows it’s easier for them to leave as well, it may be easier to get a yes to your request for a meeting, (It’s a lot easier to drink your coffee and go than it is to get a tenacious salesman out of your office.)

Like anything the right decision is contextual. Yes, in general it’s better to meet at your client’s office, but there are reasons that make an offsite preferable. The key is to get face to face with your prospective client. Where you are face to face is secondary.

The ideas from this post come from Never be Closing. We hope you found them useful.