Do you move from one sales meeting to the next without conducting a full review on how the last one went? If the answer is yes, then chances are that you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
Early on in my sales career my mentor asked me this question:
“Sean, what do you do after a sales meeting that ensures the next one will be even better?”
That question struck me because, basically, I hadn’t considered it much before.
I used to simply write up my notes, put them on the CRM system and carry on from there.
But it got me thinking about what the best way would be to learn from the meeting experience and determine how I could improve next time. You don’t need to go on any Sales Training or Advanced Sales Training courses to learn this. You can do it all yourself and all it takes is a little time and discipline.
Sales Meeting Review
There are essentially two things you should critique about your sales meetings after you’ve met with a prospective buyer…the how and the what.
The ‘how’ is the process that the meeting took, how you conducted the conversation, what worked well and what didn’t. The ‘what’ is the actual content of the meeting and what you gained from it.
Let’s look at the HOW first.
As you learn from experiences, you can ask yourself three fundamental questions:
1. What happened?
2. What does that mean?
3. What will happen next?
Sales Meeting Critique – What happened?
In the ‘what happened?’ section, you can recall what the client said and how you responded.
Ask yourself questions like these:
How did the meeting start?
How did the buyer bring up their problems or opportunities?
How did I respond to those?
What questions did the buyer bring up?
What turning points occurred in the conversation?
Were there any points they brought up that I couldn’t answer?
How did I build value in the solutions?
How did I get the buyer involved in those solutions?
What direction did the meeting take, and was I able to keep it on track?
Did I summarise and gain commitment to the next stage?
Sales Meeting Critique – What does that mean?
In the ‘what does that mean?’ section, you can highlight the rationale behind the meeting direction and the implications that might come from it.
Ask these types of questions:
What positive signs came from the buyer?
What more could I have done to have built value in their eyes?
What weaknesses or disappointments did you take away from the meeting?
What would you do to turn round those disappointments?
What else would you change if you could?
Quickly scanning those questions after the meeting will help you rationalise what happened and the meaning behind them.
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Sales Meeting Critique – What will happen next?
In the ‘what will happen next?’ section, you identify the learning points behind the results you achieved and determine what will change next time.
Let’s assume you realise your sales conversation could have involved the buyer more, especially when it came to making decisions for advancement.
You can ask yourself:
What should I stop doing?
What should I start doing?
What could I improve on and do better?
Maybe it shows that your industry knowledge needs to be brought up to date.
You recognise you haven’t been reading the blogs, writing articles, and identifying the trends in business lately.
Maybe you could plan for an improvement by setting aside a couple of hours a week to update yourself on what is new, and the implications of those changes to your potential customers.
Now onto the ‘What’.
The ‘what’ is the actual content of the meeting and what you gained from it.
By reflecting on the content, you will learn what will benefit this or the next contact when you meet up with them.
This debrief will help you determine the next steps for the relationship-building part of the interaction.
Go over your notes and decide what were the ‘need to know’ items from the meeting and the ‘nice to know’ items.
The ‘need to knows’ are those things that the buyer can’t do without.
Things like increase in productivity to keep up with competitors, decrease in staff turnover to reduce costs or improvement in quality to enhance margins might be seen as ‘baseline’ benefits.
In other words, without those benefits, the buyer won’t progress.
The ‘nice to know’ items are the more personal or emotion connections that would make the buyer feel better about any solution.
They may have mentioned that their bonus is tied up with improvements in sales, so this is something you recognise as an opportunity to discuss further.
You could think of these points as getting to know your buyer better, identifying their personal goals, what obstacles they are facing and how they will personally be measured on the projects on which you are working with them.
The whole purpose of going over the content of the meeting afterwards is to decide how you can demonstrate value, build relationships with the decision-makers, and create real reasons for their business to use your services in the future.
It’s probably the most basic area of review that you can do as a salesperson, but most don’t do it properly and hence miss out on the opportunities they may have found out in the meeting itself.
So, think about both process and content.
When you review your well-scribed notes after the meeting, build value in the time you spent by seeing what you learned and identifying the way forward now that you’ve created the springboard for advancing your knowledge and understanding of your prospect’s business needs.