They say that timing is everything and in a Sales career, I believe that is true. It is this discipline that has embedded itself into my Sales life and allowed me to manage my diary and target most effectively.
Let me share four best practice techniques with you;
Respect your client’s time
When meeting with a Client, ensure you check that the person still has the assigned time dedicated to your conversation. If you have an hour long meeting scheduled, reconfirm before you leap into the agenda. This promotes that:
- You are professional, experienced, you know how to run a meeting and
- You are respectful of both yours and the client's time.
How many meetings have you attended that have over run or worse under run, because the question of time has not been checked? You find yourself in the awkward position of finalising the next steps as the client is showing you into the lift!
Use meeting time wisely
Just like a presentation, a meeting needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Ask yourself, what the purpose of the meeting is? What do you want your client to do or feel as a result of your meeting? Then tailor your structure and material accordingly. For example, if your plan is to move your client to a proof of concept as a next step, everything you do and say in the lead up needs to build to this point.
Always ask 'When'?
The third point is focused around next steps, which if you’ve done your job properly, should be found in the ‘conclusion’ part of your meeting structure. Unfortunately, as Sales people, we tend to get what’s known as Happy Ears on. What do I mean by that? The Client tells you exactly what you want to hear. They love your product, can’t wait to trial it, want you to introduce it to the rest of the team, come to your offices, meet your Mother, erect a statue in your honour - you get the idea! You skip out of the meeting room, without asking the one most valuable question... WHEN? When do you plan to trial it? When should we have our next meeting? When will you introduce me to your team? Without an idea of timescales, the opportunity remains unqualified.
Uncover the compelling event
This leads me on nicely to my final piece of advice. Once you have answers to the above, ask this very simple question - What happens if nothing happens? What happens if the Client doesn’t trial it by the date he/she has given? What happens if your meeting doesn’t take place next week? What happens if the team doesn’t like what they see? Ultimately, you’re trying to uncover the compelling event which propels the urgency to act.
The summary is that in my experience, the best Sales people manage their and their Client's time effectively. They confirm how much time both parties have for each interaction, they structure that time successfully, they understand when follow ups will take place and can clearly articulate to anyone who asks, the nature of the compelling event in each opportunity.
By Mell Sheppard, Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 313,000 in more than 14,650 clubs in 126 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are nearly 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7000 members. Find your local club. Follow on Twitter.