Four Ways to Ensure You Make the Right Sales Call
Have you ever been to a presentation and felt like the speaker had no idea who the audience really was? I have.
I’ll give you a recent example. I went to a meeting of my MotherOfTwins Club last week; the topic was “Healthy Eating for Less.” Great topic. There was lots of interest on the part of the attendees.
The speaker was a woman (a single woman with no children) who had founded a non-profit organization with the mission of helping people become healthier. Very noble. She had a book with 50 tips in it.
The woman had 1 hour to talk to us. She started covering the tips randomly, based on numbers that we shouted out. She got through about 15 of them, and exceeded her time limit by more than 30 minutes. I suppose each of us walked away having learned something of value. But what should she have done differently?
She should have taken the characteristics of her audience into consideration and customized her presentation to what she believed to be true about us. That we, every on of us, are...
• Don’t have a lot of time to comparison shop.
• But that we love our children and want them to be as healthy as possible, within the limits of our respective budgets (which I’m sure are all vastly different).
Given that all of the above were true, should she have been talking to us about buying direct from manufacturers, waiting 6 months for frozen pizzas to be on sale, or what was the best month to buy vegetables? NO!
With children, you do not have the luxury of deciding when you need something. When you need it, you have to get it. Now.
I am willing to bet that the speaker gives the same presentation regardless of who is in her audience. And that was ineffective and disrespectful of our time and attention, not to mention that she kept us all there far later than we planned to be, because we were too polite to walk out on her.
So how does this translate into the printing industry? I’ll tell you 4 steps that you can and should take before you go in to meet with a prospect for the first time, to make sure that you are delivering the right kind of message to the right person.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK.—Know who your target is, what their mission is, their buying style, their competition, and their position in their marketplace. This can be done through researching their Website, and using social media and networking tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
QUALIFY.—Before I take the time to meet with someone face to face, I want to make sure they are the right person with the right authority (or can get me a direct link to the authority), that they have the budget, the need and that there are no barriers to doing work with me. I would clarify all those things over the phone or in an e-mail before I ever agree to go in.
CREATE A THEORY OR HYPOTHESIS about what their needs MIGHT be.—based on your experience with other companies like theirs, you may think you know what some of their business challenges and problems might be, and you know how your products and services can help solve them.
PROVE OR DISPROVE YOUR THEORY/HYPOTHESIS.—When you get to the meeting, after small talk but before you start talking all about your company and your abilities and competitive strengths (which I call spray-and-pray, and will cover in another blog post), state your theory and check it with your audience. Are you on the right track? If you are, proceed, but if not, make sure you get them to articulate their issues and then answer them, ideally with your own solution. If, however, what they need cannot be served by your company, be honest and let them know that today you may not be able to help, but you are willing to help them seek out a solution that can.
I was never a Boy Scout, but I live by their creed as much as I can. “Always Be Prepared.” You will save a lot of your time and that of your audience by understanding them and anticipating their needs and challenges.
Your ability to be flexible and to think on your feet will serve you well. Don’t make your audience sit through a generic presentation on your company. You wouldn’t want to listen to someone who has no concept of who you are, what you need and how they can help you, would you?
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.