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How not to conduct a sales call

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Recently, a salesperson had a meeting with a senior executive from a large company. The goal was to solidify a deal and gain agreement to move ahead with the buying decision.

Several sales conversations had been conducted prior to this meeting. The prospect knew about the salesperson’s company and the value of his solution. He was also aware that the salesperson’s company had achieved success with other large organizations.

During a pre-meeting conference call, the executive stated that his primary goal in meeting was to learn how the salesperson could help him implement the solution with minimal disruption. He also wanted to be presented with case studies that would support the salesperson’s claims.

However, here is the agenda the salesperson planned for that meeting:

1. Who is XYZ Company (the salesperson’s company)?

2. Overview of the product

3. How XYZ can help ABC Company (the prospect’s company)

4. Our solution

5. Product demonstration

6. How we deliver results

7. The support ABC will receive

8. How we will manage your account

9. Innovation—the future of XYZ Company

10. Benefits of working with XYZ Company

11. How we will launch:

  • Program and launch planning
  • Account initialization and configuration
  • User acceptance testing
  • Program deployment
  • Monitoring and review

12. Client feedback and results

13. Q&A

I groaned when I reviewed this agenda. And here’s why: Only five points of this lengthy agenda were focused on the prospect’s issues and concerns. So I suggested that the salesperson eliminate the first eight topics and speak directly to the prospect’s concerns.

But the salesperson and his manager were reluctant to do this because:

  • They had a full day scheduled and wanted to make sure they filled every minute of that day,
  • They felt they still had to sell the prospect on their company and solution, and
  • They thought that talking about their company would alleviate any concerns the prospect might have.

I have yet to encounter an executive who is interested in a salesperson’s company. Executive decision-makers don’t care. All they want to know is how you can help them solve a problem. It would have been much more effective for the salesman to focus strictly on the prospect’s issues and concerns instead of wasting precious time talking about themselves.

The next time you have an important sales call or meeting with an executive, invest some time finding out what your prospect wants to learn about and focus your efforts on those things. Skip the blah, blah, blah about your company and cut to the chase by demonstrating exactly how you will help him achieve his objectives.

Not only will you save time (his and yours), but you’ll position yourself as a leader and separate yourself from your competition. If you address your prospect’s concerns, he will not complain that a four-hour meeting took only two hours. I guarantee it.

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