Directing the Boss
A sales rep and his boss are walking into a sales call when the boss turns and says, "Let me know if I talk too much."
"Just a heads up: I am going to take this call over at some point and neither you nor the client will get in a word edgewise."
"Let me know if I talk too much" is right up there with, "Does this dress make me look fat?" It is rhetorical and requires no answer but does create some concern. For the next few minutes, your job will be to:
A. Look interested
B. Nod your head in agreement...
C. ...all the while mentally screaming, "STOP TALKING! YOU’RE KILLING ME HERE!"
Salespeople cannot control their bosses commentary—neither in terms of content or quality. Still, there is great value in the four-legged sales call, and bringing your boss in with you can do a lot to solidify an account relationship. But it is important to remember that you, the salesperson, are still in charge. You are not being brought in to see the principal. This is your sales call to direct and control. So, direct and control it:
1. Meet with your boss prior to the appointment.
2. Make your goal for the call clear.
3. Prep the boss with some background on the account, the industry, and those also in the meeting.
4. Don’t be afraid to say to your boss, "Here's what I want from you..."
5. Identify any potential pitfalls or subjects to be avoided (for example, if a major delay occurred recently, it is best not to be bragging about your on-time reputation).
6. Be aware that once the boss starts talking, you will lose control of the sales call and not get it back so get your points in early, toss the ball to him or her and look for an opportunity to wrap it up.
The other part of your job is to watch the body language on the part of the client. Look for clues of special interest or sheer boredom. Take copious notes of the conversation and especially anything you observe that could turn into new opportunities.
Just like any other sales call, one that includes your boss needs to be thought through carefully. You have a role and so does he or she. Don’t expect your boss to know the perfect thing to say. It is up to you to be the director of your own movie.
Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at Epicomm. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out sales.epicomm.org and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or firstname.lastname@example.org