Debating and Selling – It’s All in the Preparation!

As nerve-racking and crazy as the recent political debates have been, what I enjoy the most about them is the thought that goes into every question asked. The moderator’s questions are planned out, purposeful, and zone in on key targeted topics.

When you think about it, isn’t that what we do in sales? We are like moderators. Just as the moderator of the political debate doesn’t show up and wing it, asking questions off the cuff, neither should we. We should be well prepared for a meeting, either on the phone or face-to-face.  We don’t want to wing these appointments. It’s worth taking the time to plan our questions and strategies ahead of time.

Here are some tips to help you when you pre-call plan.

1. Think of the first two questions you will ask in order to get dialog started.
Do this whether this is your first call or your tenth call with this potential customer.  This is breaking the ice or building rapport.  These can be questions regarding how long they have been in the business, how they got to their current position, or how their son or daughter’s game was, if they talked about it the last time you connected. Make these questions about them. This is not about you.

2. Figure out how you will segue into the business portion of the conversation.
Especially on a first appointment, don’t assume they really know what you do. For example, say,  “Before we begin, would it help if I gave you some brief information regarding our company and my role within the organization?”  Go into a brief introduction and then ask a “how” or “what” question to smoothly get into the conversation.

An easy way to start the business portion of the conversation with someone you have seen multiple times is to verify the information you received last time and move forward from there. “What I would like to do is go over the information you stated at our last meeting/conversation, to make sure I didn’t miss anything important.”

3. Know the critical things you need to find out before hanging up the phone or walking out of the meeting. 
These can be items such as budget, what they are currently doing, timeline, their decision-making process, or any specifics you need to create a compelling proposal.  Think of how you are going to get the answers you are looking for, without going down a list or interrogating, but leading the conversation to where you want it to go.  Remember, your next question should be based on their last answer.

4. Determine your main objective for the meeting / conversation.
Should you not achieve your main objective, what is your secondary objective? You should always have a Plan A and Plan B prepared before a meeting / conversation so you have something to fallback on if things don’t go exactly right.

So the next time you talk to or meet with a prospect, step into the role of a debate moderator. You want to ask well thought-out questions to uncover the information you need to do your job effectively. With your guidance and well thought out questions, everyone involved will feel like a winner in the end!


ETIQUETTE CORNER: 
It’s Tuesday at 2 — Time for a Successful Meeting!

You have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00 and you have done your pre-call planning homework.  Now, the way you conduct yourself at the meeting can determine if someone will do business with you or not.

So here are some tips for a successful meeting.

1. Arrive at least 10 minutes before your scheduled meeting. You never want to be late for a meeting with a potential customer.  If you are, it can be interpreted that you just don’t care about them and/or their business.

2. When greeting the prospect, be sure to make eye contact, have a firm handshake, and smile warmly.  People like to do business with people who like what they do.

3. If the person you are meeting with offers you coffee or water, say yes. Ask to accompany them to get it. This will give you a chance to observe the office. It is amazing what you can learn.

4. Once you are in their office, do not put your portfolio or brochures on their desk. This is an invasion of their space and can be considered rude. Ask first before placing anything there.

5. Be conscious of time.  Arrive early, but also end the meeting promptly. If you made a thirty-minute appointment, and things are still rolling at the thirty-minute mark, ask for permission to continue, or see about scheduling an additional appointment to continue the conversation.

Keep in mind…“Your smile is your logo. Your personality is your business card. How you leave others feeling after having an experience becomes your trademark!” – Jay Danzie

So be respectful of your prospect’s time and personal space. Pre-call plan and conduct yourself in such a way that your Tuesday at 2 meeting has the best possible outcome!