Last week I wrote about the need for sales executives to go into their meetings with a plan of attack. I wrote out a quick anatomy of a sales call, but it was very vague. Realistically, each meeting you have has a different desired outcome depending on what stage of the sales process you are at. It is with that in mind that I decided to write out what I think is the anatomy of several key sales’ stages. What should you be looking for as your prospect gets farther and farther down the line to ensure that you find closed business at the end of the funnel? Step one of course, the discovery meeting.
The discovery meeting is like being set up on a date by an online dating service. You’ll probably have a couple of things in common, but other than liking live music and Japanese food, everything else is a mystery. You could meet up for sushi (good!) head to a Pearl Jam concert (awesome!) and then end up at their house only to find it is decorated to the theme of the cartoon “Underdog”. (great…wait, what?) The discovery call is for both parties to make sure that neither has an “Underdog” fetish. Sure you have to sell your solution, but you also need to make sure there is a potential fit before you waste large amounts of time only to get a “NO” when the potential client realizes you aren’t what they want.
Why they are talking to you? Did they take your call because an inside sales rep harassed them and they just don’t want to be cold called anymore? Are they product evaluators looking to kill some time? Do they want a free lunch at the local hibachi grill or do they actually have a problem that they need help with? There are a lot of tire kickers out there and you owe it to yourself to find out who they are. No need to go into a long sales cycle with someone who wanted the free lunch and now feels bad saying ‘no’ to you.
Issue Identification? After you know that they have a legitimate reason for talking to you, identify how bad their issue is. What will happen if this problem continues to exist? How much damage has already been done? Show them how much they need you by having them vocalize the severity of the problem.
Who is involved in the decision? I’m not talking about just gathering names. I’m talking about building a profile report on everyone involved. Make sure that all of the people involved in the decision understand how critical it is to solve this issue. Look at it this way: My wife has a run in her stockings. There happens be a stockings sales person outside our door. (I live in a weird neighborhood) The stocking sales person, known as SSP, convinces my wife to buy some stockings. She would love to, but she forgot her wallet. She turns to me and asks me and I say, “What the heck do you need those for? You look fine.” Bang, the sale is dead. If the SSP had told me that not buying the stockings would lead to an entire night of me being called cheap for not buying stockings, I would have gotten 2 pairs.
What other options are they looking into? What are you up against? This one is trickier than it looks because often times your prospect won’t tell you who they are looking at. That being said, they should give you an idea of the features of the other solutions they are looking into. In order to really differentiate yourself from the competition, you need to know what they are offering.
Your prospect should: Believe in your offering. Understand your value. Want to pull in influencers and other decision makers. Be willing to set up a next step. Be open to sharing information with you. Ask you questions based on your expertise. Not seeing any of these behaviors constitutes a red flag that you need to look out for.
In my opinion the key to the discovery call is your mindset. This call is for both parties to learn about each other and not a groveling session where you kiss up and agree to everything your prospect asks. Remember that you are the expert and carry yourself as such. Be honest, have confidence in your solution and sell like you don’t need the business.