Written by Sean McPheat |
One of the best salespeople I ever worked with gave me a hint into his working life and what made him so successful.
He once said to me, “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 would be the best way to learn from the meeting experience and determine how I could improve next time.
There are essentially two things you should reflect on 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.
In other words, how did the dynamics of the sales conversation go?
As you learn from experiences, you can ask yourself three fundamental questions:
In the ‘what happened?’ section, you can recall what the client said and how you responded.
Ask yourself questions like these:
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:
Quickly scanning those questions after the meeting will help you rationalise what happened and the meanings behind them.
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:
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.
He may have mentioned that his 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.
That salesperson I mentioned at the start went on to manage a successful European operation, and I could see why.
His advice has stayed with me over the years and I trust it will help you also to improve your client relations.
Originally published: 12 February, 2018