Category Archives: Sales Meetings
The Harvard Business Review collected two decades’ worth of data on collaborative working environments. Their conclusion: “The time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.” Findings like this only spark more questions — namely, what does all that time together accomplish? Ask a coworker, and you’re likely to hear, “not much.”
The challenge of improving meetings and the teams within them has become a million-dollar question — literally.
Google committed millions to Project Aristotle, an initiative to study hundreds of teams within the company. Google wanted to know why some fail while others succeed. After three years of research, they learned that certain norms predict success.
One such norm was psychological safety, the ability to fluidly exchange ideas without fear of embarrassment. As a reporter for The New York Times reported: “In the best teams, members listen to one another.” Creating an environment in which team members listen requires a more thoughtful approach to planning meetings. Doing so begins by developing a set of best practices.
One such practice, fostering positivity, borrows from Project Aristotle’s finding regarding psychological safety. Sales kick-off meetings are an opportunity to align goals and build a cohesive team. Rather than resorting to a list of demands, leaders can use positivity to urge the group to reach further. Consider designing the sales kick-off meeting as a resource event in which the team can » Continue Reading.
It’s that time of year when many sales organizations are either planning or organizing the last-minute details of a sales kickoff meeting.
Sales kickoffs are great opportunities to energize a sales team, ensure they are clear on the strategy and direction for the year, and cover some important operational and product updates. They’re also opportunities to train or introduce a training initiative.
There are a few considerations for sales and learning leaders who are thinking about including a training element as part of their kickoff.
1. The Sales Kickoff Meeting Agenda
Let’s face it, there are times where you can be very proactive, thoughtful, and strategic in planning the launch of a training initiative and carve out dedicated time at a sales kickoff meeting for a focus on upskilling. And then, there are times where you are just trying to fill a slot of time and take advantage of the rare opportunity of having all of the salespeople in person.
In the latter, the key is to just be realistic about the outcomes you can expect. If you only have 90 minutes, it will be very difficult to expect that your teams will walk out of that session ready to change their behavior. It might be possible if you are hyper-focused on one skill or topic and be very practical and hands on in your approach. Ensuring you break out in small groups is critical if you take this approach.
Many large, complex sales require sales professionals to approach pitching as a team. Often, there is strength in numbers, but preparation and logistics become even more critical in order to show a unified front to the customer.
Preparation for Pitching as a Team
An important consideration is choosing who will handle the opening. The person opening has to be skilled in making an impact, commanding attention, and establishing an immediate hook. Typically, he/she will give opening remarks, a rundown of the agenda, introduce team members, and handle transitions.
It is vital to prepare specific roles and content for each member of the team. Every person should know what they’re going to say, and they should convey the value they bring to the table. Even though everyone has their own expertise, all must be aligned behind the same clear message during the sales pitch.
To anticipate and prepare for possible questions and objections, it helps for the team to brainstorm beforehand. What might be an issue? How will the team handle it? Who, specifically, will address questions in which areas? Each presenter should know which part of the overall story he/she is responsible for, along with how his/her content dovetails with what the other presenters are saying.
Whether or not each person stands up to make his/her presentation depends on the circumstances. Sometimes, it’s natural to stand, even if everyone else is seated. Standing commands » Continue Reading.
Sales professionals have to nail their sales pitch all the time: over the phone, in person, with prospects, with established customers; a sales pitch can take place in any phase of the sales process.
But when a sales pitch involves large, complex sales, often with long selling cycles, or finals presentation as part of RFP processes, it pays to get them right. This is the time to demonstrate how thoroughly you’ve done your homework, how closely you’ve listened to the customer, what thought leadership and knowledge you possess in the customer’s industry, and how well your solution accomplishes its goals.
It is easily said, but it can be hard to convey when standing in front of the customer. What is needed is a plan that sets the stage for an effective sales dialogue at this important point in the selling process.
Making the Right Sales Pitch
(1) Tell their story: The pitch should be a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. It should help your customer visualize the current situation and the desired end state. Think about an appropriate visual to capture your customer’s interest and make the scenario relevant for him/her.
(2) Summarize your understanding: Review what you know about the customer: what he/she is looking to accomplish, the priorities of his/her stakeholders, challenges facing the industry, and whether or not he/she is differentiated in the market. Then, check to validate » Continue Reading.
Only 17 percent of salespeople get a second sales meeting
Here’s the bad news: only 17 percent of salespeople get a second meeting with an executive, according to Forrester Research.
The good news is that you can improve your chances of getting a second meeting through preparation and demonstrating your credibility in the first meeting. If you are lucky enough to get into the executive suite, you have to balance your strategy of question-led and insight-led dialogue to create “aha!” moments for the client, proving that you do indeed have a deep understanding of their business.
The first step is to determine, in advance of the meeting, what you’d like to happen at its conclusion. It’s not always going to be a sale; it might be to have another meeting. The way that you build that expectation up front for yourself and communicate it early in the meeting can be an important move.
Be aware that executives will often spend the first few minutes of a sales meeting trying to determine whether you have earned your right to be a part of the conversation regarding whatever initiative is on the table. So, if you begin by being too product-focused or talking only about yourself and your company, most executives will consider that a deal-breaker. You have to demonstrate from the start that you know enough about their business and their industry to be credible, insightful, and a valuable partner, » Continue Reading.
Richardson’s own Senior Facilitator and frequent blogger, Michael Dalis, is currently featured on the HubSpot Sales Blog. Michael’s post is entitled 5 Tips on How to Use a C-Level Executive in a Sales Meeting and can be viewed by clicking here.
In this blog post, Michael presents five practical tips for leveraging a C-level executives in an effective sales call, pitch, or client meeting. He shows how using this vital resource can give you and your sales team the extra boost needed to push you into the winner’s circle. We hope you enjoy!
Don’t Let Your Written Proposal Torpedo Your Deal
What I am about to say may be an example of life being unfair. Obviously, a poorly prepared written proposal could cost you a deal. However, the most expertly prepared, well-written, catchy-reading proposal brings no guarantee of winning. To make things worse yet, an overly slick proposal might be a turn off.
Let me give an example of the third possibility, because I know that calling something “too good” sounds illogical. Take, for example, the redevelopment of a low-income housing project. Residents of the project will be represented on the committee making project decisions. Is an expensively produced proposal likely to impress them? Or, will it more likely send a message that you can’t related to them? Someone who kept in mind the human element could be more likely to win.
For Experts that Sell, A Surprising Key to an Effective Sales Meeting
Experts, circa 2014, sell. Are you a portfolio manager, consultant, lawyer, investment banker, engineer, architect, or estate planner? As an expert, you are highly educated and credentialed and have deep industry and subject matter knowledge. Though not in a typical sales role, you may be asked at times to participate on a sales call or pitch. The request may be driven by clients who increasingly want to meet and gain comfort with the person who will be creating their portfolio, solution, deal structure, strategy, or design. Or, the request may be driven by your firm, which has decided that your participation is essential to win the work. Regardless of how you feel about selling, the comments below are designed to help you contribute to a winning sales effort when asked.