Sales Tip #2: When More People are Added to the Equation

Sales Tip #2: If a potential client asks for another meeting with the specific purpose of bringing more people into the discussion, you should assume those people are influential.

Sometimes when selling to someone, that person will request a follow-up meeting for the purpose of involving more people in the decision-making process.  More often than not, a decision-maker is not going to bring more people into the discussion for the heck of it.  Instead, this person realizes that wise decision-makers know to surround themselves with wise advisers.  As a seller, it’s important to learn what perspective each adviser has to offer, and what role they will make in the decision-making process. 

It doesn’t have to be hard.  Begin with the same process you used for the initial meeting.  Get the names of the people who will be joining you at the next meeting and do some research about them online.  Then, start the next meeting with our go-to question from Sales Tip #1, “Hi [colleague’s name], it’s nice to meet you.  Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at [company’s name]?”  Then, follow that question up with another question directed at the original buyer, “Hi [buyer], nice to see you again.  I understand you wanted [colleague’s name] to join us this time.  What perspective are you hoping she/he brings to the table?”

These questions will help you discover what areas you should focus your discussion on.  Did the buyer bring financial experts to the meeting?  Product experts?  Social media experts?  Whatever their areas of expertise, your buyer probably has questions about your proposed solution in those areas and wants the new participants’ opinions on the matter. 

Finally, in addition to helping you know what areas to focus the discussion on; these questions will also help with relationship building.  They will help you begin to build relationships with the new participants in the decision-making process, and they will strengthen your relationship with the original buyer.  Remember, it was his or her choice to bring these people into the decision-making process, so respecting them communicates that you respect the buyer’s judgment – and respect is one of the cornerstones of a strong relationship. 

Sales Tip #1: Know Who You Are Selling To – Obvious but Essential

Sales Tip #1: Know who you are selling to.

While this tip may seem incredibly obvious, it is also incredibly important.  Have you ever found yourself on the receiving end of a sales call where it was painfully obvious that the seller knew nothing about you or your company?  How does that leave you feeling?  Annoyed?  Frustrated?  Like the meeting was a waste of time?

As a seller, it’s easy to get so caught up in trying to highlight the benefits of your solution and the credibility of your brand that you forget to focus on the buyer.  Yes, your solution and credibility are important, but it’s more important to develop a relationship with your buyer.  Doing so is easier than you may think.

Take the time to learn about the people you are meeting with.  Ideally, this involves doing research ahead of time: checking out the buyer’s organization and personal bio online (if their bio is not on their company website, check out LinkedIN).  If that’s not possible, then start your meeting with a simple, “Hi [buyer’s name], it’s nice to meet you.  Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at [company’s name].”  In fact, I suggest starting all your meetings like this because you never know when an online bio is outdated or what else you might learn about someone just by asking.

Once again, this may seem obvious, but it’s important.  Why?  Because sales, especially in the service industry, is becoming more about establishing a working relationship with someone than it is finding a “quick fix.”  Even in the product industry, most people will tell you that they would rather buy from someone they have a relationship with rather than someone they barely know.

In the end, that is what sales is all about—building a relationship.  And you can’t have a relationship with someone you don’t know.

2013–A New Year & A New Start

2013– a new year and the perfect time for a new start.  

This concept is nothing new.  For as long as most of us can remember, people have been using this time of year to set their “New Year’s Resolutions.”  However, for most people, those resolutions are broken as quickly as they are made.  Anyone with a gym membership will tell you gym traffic typically doubles during the month of January before slowing down to its usual flow around mid-February.  So why are we so bad at following through with our New Year Resolutions?

Most of our resolutions tend be made in the moment with lots of emotion but with little consideration and little planning.  For example, we look into the mirror on January 1st, see the results of our holiday merry-making, and adamantly declare–“I NEED to lose weight!  I will start working out!”  This example highlights another problem with many new year’s resolutions–they tend to be reactive and not proactive.

The many problems begin shortly after we join the gym.  We don’t actually know what exercises we should be doing–are we just trying to lose weight or build muscle?  Or maybe we should be trying to tone muscle.  Then, real life hits, and suddenly it is hard to fit going to the gym into our busy schedules.  And finally, we haven’t actually made any changes to our eating habits, so even though we are going to the gym a bit more often, we’re not seeing the results we want–and before you know it those problems add up and we stop going to the gym altogether.  Have you ever experienced anything like this in your own personal or work life, and what can we do about it???

Most resolutions fail because they are not linked to a broader vision.  Instead of standing alone, personal and organizational goals should support our personal or organizational vision.  Therefore, identifying the vision becomes the first step.  We’ve already discussed the “Key Aspects of a Great Vision” before, so we won’t go into all the details about it here.  But, we will remind you that quite simply, vision paints a picture of the future state you/your organization wants to achieve.  It defines what success looks like.  If we go back to the weight loss example, a strong vision statement would be, “Living a healthy lifestyle that includes a regular work-out program and a nutritional diet.”

But sometimes, having a big vision can seem overwhelming to a leader.  We have these big dreams—how are we ever going to achieve them?

The answer is simple; we need a plan.  The key lies in translating the vision into multiple, smaller goals.  When we do this, it is very important to write these goals (or resolutions) down.  Writing them down creates personal accountability, because now, we have a list that we can go back to and measure ourselves against.  However, don’t just take my word for it…

According to Dave Kohl, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech (as quoted in Five):

  • 80% of Americans say they don’t have goals.
  • 16% of Americans have goals, but they don’t write them down.
  • < 4% of Americans actually write their goals down.
  • < 1 % of Americans write down their goals on an ongoing basis.
  • People who regularly write down their goals earn 9x as much over their lifetimes than those who don’t.

So, don’t wait.  Make this the year you get serious about your resolutions.  Take the time and identify your vision and break it down into smaller goals to achieve that vision.  Then, write those goals down.  You’ll be amazed at the difference consideration and planning can make.

Referenced Works:

  • Zadra, Dan. (2009). Five: Where will you be five years from today?. Seattle: Compendium, Inc.

The Beauty of Dreams

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  
– Eleanor Roosevelt

What are your dreams?  What solutions do you have to offer the world?  Believe that you can make a difference.    

Live like Today is the First and Last Day of Your Life

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“Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first and last day of your life.”
– Chase the Lion

How can you make a positive difference where you are right now?  In what areas of your life have you grown cynical, and how can you start to overcome that?  If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?  What are you currently thankful for?    

The Tragedy of Life

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“The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goals, the tragedy lies in not having any goals to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideals, but it is a disaster to have no ideals to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach.”  – Dr. Benjamin Mays

Take a moment to sit down and write out some of your goals for the rest of this year. What do you want to accomplish?