Getting beyond talk to closing the sale

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruGetting beyond talk to closing the sale

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned face-to-face meeting with a prospect to close a sale. At least that is what most sales reps believe. In this age of electronic communication, there are many gatekeepers that stand in the way. Here’s what you can do to not blow your opportunity once you have landed the first meeting.

To start with, research suggests only 2% of sales deals are struck at a first meeting, says Robert Clay, founder of Marketing Wizdom. Yet many many sales people give up after a few tries. “The 2% who buy at a first meeting tend to be people who have already looked into the subject matter, and already know what they’re looking for,” he adds. In order to close the deal with the other 98 percent you need to build a relationship and trust by engaging in ongoing dialog – he says research indicates that 5 follow-ups are needed for most non-routine sales.

What’s the best way to prepare? Try to plan for the perfect first sales meeting. You thought you were already doing that. But try what Philip Kreindler of Infoteam suggests. He cites research that 52 percent of customers were dissatisfied with their first meeting with a potential vendor. Common wisdom says you get only one chance to make a good impression in any area in life. Kreindler says if you get it right you build trust, the most valuable asset in a customer relationship.

If you are preparing for a first meeting, or if you are a manager coaching a sales person for a first meeting, try answering these questions, he urges.

  • Why is the customer taking the time to meet you?
  • Which customer insights will demonstrate your preparation?
  • What are the customer’s strategic goals, opportunities and threats?

Once you get the questions down pat, make sure you have the right answers, he adds. Have a case study ready and think about what you should propose for the next step.

One key requirement: do not waste the prospect’s time. If you want to get noticed for all the hard work you have done preparing for this first meeting, think about how you position the problem you are going to solve and how to stand out from competitors.

Entrepreneur contributor Adrian Davis notes that the problem for those who have been trained in “consultative selling” is that “almost everyone is now doing it.” Not only are you not differentiating yourself, he says, you are making it worse.

Davis advocates the PUSH approach to make a case:

  • Provocation: Provoke the prospect. Become the expert. Know the trends.
  • Unsafe: Show the prospect how the increasing momentum of this trend makes life unsafe.
  • Safety: Show him you have helped others deal with these trends and lead him to safety
  • Hero: Tell you prospect how you have successfully dealt with these issues and became the hero in the process.

DancingManAnne Grason of Richardson Sales Enablement believes the good news is that you can improve your chances of getting a second meeting through preparation and by demonstrating credibility during that first meeting. If you get into the executive suite, Grason says “you have to balance your strategy of question-led and insight-led dialog to create ‘aha!’ moments for the client.”

Make sure you have a clear goal what you want to happen during that first meeting and be sure to add enough value so the executives want to know even more about what you can deliver.

So here is the good news about how to improve sales and business to business marketing. According to Demand Metric, 80 percent of respondents who said their sales and marketing systems are highly integrated achieved their revenue goal.

If you start with the end in mind and know the organization’s goals, Lisa Cannon asserts at Business2Community, you can increase market share, net new acquisitions, enjoy more recurring revenue or achieve whatever other goals you’ve set. But those goals must be mutually defined, understood and agreed upon between sales and marketing. One key she points out is the need for the organization to agree on just what a qualified lead actually is!

A partner who can help you identify the right contacts, engage with them and help the sales team get traction within your target accounts can be instrumental in achieving your company’s goals. SimplyDIRECT works with many clients to help define qualified leads which are then used to create clean, well-qualified and phone-confirmed prospect databases. Read our Buyer’s Guide to Survey-Based Lead Generation for ideas on how to leverage those leads.