Avoid Customers’ Biggest Pet Peeves By Running High-Impact Meetings

by on December 9, 2013 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Top Sales Dog

Note: Today’s guest post comes from Craig Wortmann, CEO of Sales Engine

What mistakes do customers say salespeople are making? And how can one shift prevent you from making them?

Back in the 90’s, I worked for the Forum Corporation out of Boston. Forum has always been great at researching high-performance selling, and one of the findings I come back to over and over is captured in the following chart.

tsd-120913-chart

Notice the key: each of these percentages show what customers think is a salesperson’s greatest mistake. It’s an important distinction to make because the customer’s opinion is always key.

Customers believe these are the biggest mistakes salespeople make:

  • “don’t follow my company’s buying process (26%)”
  • “don’t listen to my needs (18%)”
  • “don’t follow-up (17%)

There is simply no excuse for this. A professional salesperson should be embarrassed to be accused of any of these things.

So if you’re a salesperson, what do you do about this? And how do you avoid these mistakes?

Why Your Meetings Must Be High-Impact
A good start is rethinking the way you run meetings. During any given week, you likely spend a large portion of your time in meetings with potential customers. This is your opportunity to learn about their buying process and listen to their needs (and remember: according to Forum’s customer survey, you are already avoiding pitfalls by addressing these head on).

3 Tools to Help You Run High-Impact Meetings:

1. Being the meeting with a Purpose, Benefit, Check (PBC).

A high-impact meeting begins with a purpose, benefit, & check. “The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this investment. What I think we will gain from this discussion is a good sense of how to build momentum for moving forward (benefit). How does that sound (check)?”

This simple framing of the meeting is highly effective in itself. It puts you and your prospect on the same page, respects his/her agenda and places you squarely in the driver’s seat.

2. Make the process explicit to your customer.

Next, have more impact by making your process explicit as you move through your meeting. Say; “Okay, we’ve tackled the first issue. I’m looking at the clock and we have 25 minutes left. We need to tackle two more items. How are you doing? Any questions before we proceed?” I don’t know why salespeople don’t do this more often. We act like clock management and process are things to be hidden away from view. On the contrary, making your process explicit puts your prospects at ease and builds credibility. In essence, it says to a prospect; “this person is organized, straight-forward and driven.” What could be better?

3. Close the meeting with style.

Close with style. (You’re probably thinking, “well, that’s cheesy!”). Here’s an example:

“This has been great. Thank you. I captured four things that I need to tackle based on our discussion. By noon tomorrow, you will have an email from me with input on each of these four items. Our next meeting should take place within the next two weeks, and we will schedule that with your assistant as soon as possible. Have I covered the important issues? Is there anything I have left out?”

Closing strong leaves the prospect with a clear sense of accomplishment. Don’t fizzle at the end of meeting. Stay on your game.

Now, recall the “buying process” and “doesn’t listen” criticisms that customers had per Forum’s research. If you combine these simple tools, it would be very hard for any prospect to accuse you of these mistakes. And by using these tools, I believe that you will overcome other criticisms as well, including “acts too familiar” and “is pushy, aggressive, disrespectful.” Use these three simple tools in your next meeting and let me know how it goes. I’m willing to bet you make an impact.

Craig Wortmann is the CEO of Sales Engine, a company that helps firms build and tune their sales engine. He is a master of storytelling, keynote speaker, and author of What’s Your Story?: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful. Craig is a Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Inc.com named his course, Entrepreneurial Selling, one of the Best Courses of 2011. Connect with him on Google+

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