I began my sales career in August 2001. I was young and neon green (kind of like Howie!) with visions of six-figure commission checks dancing through my head. After being on the job for six months or so and closing a few deals, I felt as if I was a master of sales and deserved an established account list that would get me closer to my six-figure goal. I would vent to my friends and family about how everyone else had all the good accounts and how unfair it was that one of the managers carried a list. Hindsight is 20/20; I almost cringe thinking about the impression I left on the many prospects I stalked to land meetings—only to push the latest sales package and talk excessively about how great my organization was and why they should buy its products. Candidly, it wasn’t until I went through a formal sales training program that I understood why I wasn’t being handed a six-figure account list. Although I was closing deals, I wasn’t getting any renewal business. I was selling like the stereotypical used-car salesman.
Decision makers are interrupted every day by salespeople asking for meetings. Unfortunately, many sales people waste the decision-maker’s time, making it harder for everyone else to get a meeting. Have you ever been on a date with someone who only talked about themselves and how great they were? I’m almost positive there wasn’t an invitation for second date. That’s how too many salespeople sound to decision-makers. Perhaps I can save a few newbie salespeople from some of the mistakes I made early in my sales career by offering a few friendly pieces of advice:
Try changing the conversation from “why buy” your product to “how to use” your resources and capabilities to solve their business problems. When business relationships are built upon creating specific value to address a specific need, salespeople are seen as a trusted and valued resource.
Have you heard the expression Proper preparation prevents poor performance? Take time to research your prospect and to visit their website, LinkedIn page, and social media sites. Be sure to take notes so you can go to your meeting with pertinent and timely questions about their current strategy and specific needs
During your meeting, make sure you ask open-ended questions, that you listen more than you talk, and take good notes. Make it your objective to leave with an assignment both you and the prospect have agreed should be the focus of your efforts.
You work hard to earn every meeting you get. Make certain each one counts towards reaching that six-figure commission check that you crave as much as I did. It will happen sooner for you if you stay focused on customer needs.