The brain is the most wonderful computer on the planet. In fact, it’s pretty much an insult to the brain to compare it to a computer.
Even the most powerful computer built is left a distant second to the brain in efficiency ratings.
The interesting thing about human brains is it is always searching for meaning.
When it’s faced with a situation, new or old, it will automatically ask itself (hence, you!) ‘what does this mean?’
In other words, questions are the way the brain computes information and analyses what it should do with it. Think about it. Ask yourself a question now. Any question.
What did your brain immediately start doing? Trying to find the answer!
Asking questions, of course, has been the habitual way that most salespeople have started their meetings for years. But how about the quality of questions you ask? Have yours improved over the years you have been in sales? Or have they basically been the same, not stretching or challenging the buyer to think on a different level?
The fact is, the quality of the question will determine the quality of the response and information you receive.
So what would be the best quality questions to ask in a sales meeting? Here are some guidelines:
1) Ask questions that prove you’ve done your homework
By asking basic questions like, ‘What do you do here?’ and ‘How many people do you employ?’ you’re proving that you haven’t done your research and it takes a long time to get to the position of moving the conversation on. Instead, show how important the prospect is in your eyes with questions like, “I noticed from my research that your sales have levelled out after a promising start this year and that fewer customers are repeating their orders. What impact is this starting to have on your revenues?”
2) Have a few questions written down but make them conversational
There’s value in pre-planning questions so you get the relevant information to assist you in presenting solutions, but don’t get your notebook out and interrogate the prospect with a long list.
Instead, listen to the answers they give to your initial questions and frame conversational questions around them.
For instance, after one bit of information you gain, you could say, “That’s interesting, could you elaborate on that for me, please?” Or “I didn’t realise that. Why do you think that is happening and what are your plans based on those results?”
This makes the buyer feel it’s a proper consultative conversation, not an interrogative process they are sitting through.
3) Ask yourself, what information should I get that will help me find the solution for this specific situation in the most efficient and effective way?
The best questions you can ask are those that drive the conversation on to a level where decisions can be made. If the buyer gives you loads of valuable information through your quality questions, you are then armed with the ability to make concise and concrete suggestions, backed up with the knowledge that you are solving the precise problems the prospect is currently facing.
Each of these guidelines will help you establish a good standing with the buyer, as they will see you uncovering problems that might not have been obvious before. This will help you build a natural bridge to help them gain solutions quickly and more easily.
So, just as the brain is more efficient than the biggest computer, you are tapping into the one thing that will get you answers to problems more efficiently and effectively than anything else; quality questions!
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How much do you REALLY LOOK FORWARD to your sales meetings with the boss?
Chances are your immediate response ranged from ‘somewhat’ to ‘I’d rather have root-canal work done!’
Why do many sales meetings end up being a rehash of the “same-old same old”, with the end result being a mixture of ‘glad that’s over’ and ‘let’s get on with some real work now’? I think the answer can often come down to the attitude we as salespeople choose to take into the meetings. If we had the right mindset first of all, we might actually get results.
Here are some tips on contributing effectively to your sales meetings so they don’t always turn out to be a waste of time:
1. Bring some possible alternative solutions to every problem you bring up. If you’re always expecting someone else to answer your problems and challenges, you’ll always be reliant on someone else to earn your money for you. By coming up with possible solutions, you put the emphasis on looking forward rather than backwards
2. Discuss ways in which challenges you are experiencing could benefit other team members. Your challenges will never be unique and it may be that other team members are facing the same situations as you. Sharing possible answers will set a good tone for the meeting and encourage all to think of real-time solutions
3. Don’t get dragged into the minutia. Boring meetings kill creativity, so leave the mundane to another time when you can discuss it with people who can do something about it. We all hate administration and we’d rather be out there selling, so reject the discussions that drag everyone down
4. Look for ways that something CAN be done, rather than highlight the reasons why they CAN’T. We all know that positive thinking doesn’t always work and can lead us to reject reality. What we can do, though, is concentrate on what might work, rather than driving everyone into the metaphorical black hole of despair by raising all the reasons why something won’t work. Contribute from the angle that ‘there must be answer…we just haven’t found it yet!’
5. Be the kind of person that others look to for motivational and well-thought-out comments. You don’t have to take the Pollyanna approach to every situation, but you can encourage others to look for solutions
6. Make the time well-spent. Meetings are only a waste of time if the outcomes don’t match the value of the time devoted to them. Ensure your contribution is directed towards investing the time spent rather than throwing it away.
Next time you attend a meeting, do a quick calculation on how much the time spent is costing the company. For example, if six people attend for half-an-hour, and the hourly salary averages out at £15 for each attendee, then the meeting should come out with ideas worth more than the £45 you’ve all just cost the company.
By contributing effectively to your sales meetings, you encourage everyone to think about future solutions rather than current challenges, and you give yourself a great chance of getting great results.
MTD Sales Training
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Maybe you’ve faced the situation where you’ve prepared a great presentation for the client and you turn up with all your materials and examples of how you can help them, only to have them say ‘You’ve got five minutes. What can you do for me?’
All that preparation, all that research, all that time spent on getting your pitch ready…and NOW they tell me they have five minutes! Great!
How can you ensure this unpredictable client won’t come up with something like this on your next call?
The best way is by confirming with the client what the format of the meeting will be before you actually turn up.
You should confirm what the essence of the meeting will be, describing the objective, the amount of time allocated for the meeting, and its intended outcome. It’s almost like an agenda that you both agree over the phone and can confirm via email.
It will go something like this:
“Mr Client, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss your coaching needs, and see whether we can help you achieve your objectives over the next six months. During the meeting, I will be asking about your current performance and how it compares with where you need it to be. So it would be useful if you had those figures available.
Naturally, you’ll have some questions about our capabilities and what format the coaching would take, so I’ll be happy to answer those.
From my experience, these type of meetings take about 45-60 minutes. By the end of the meeting, we should be in a position to assess whether our services can be of value to your company. Are you happy to invest an hour of your time to assess if we should move onto the next level?”
Both you and the client now know what will take place during the meeting and how it can be more predictable. It may not stop the odd meeting starting with ‘I’ve only got five minutes’, but at least you will be able to confirm another time and date for the meeting without feeling guilty or under pressure.
Also, by phoning the client on the day of the meeting, you can confirm that they still have the time set aside for you before meeting them.
All this should help you make the meeting more predictable and ensure you have the opportunity to present yourself in the best light, without rushing through your presentation.
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