As an executive, you know the basics of attending a sales meeting: arrive early, come prepared, and ask the good questions. While these things are all important, the key skill in attending any meeting is listening. Unfortunately, whether the meeting is with a single customer or with a room-filled audience, many people don’t know how to actively listen. Often, they are busy formulating what they are going to say in response, and sometimes their response or question doesn’t make sense or doesn’t relate to the subject currently being discussed. These people don’t understand that listening is a skill to be great at, and that listening skills can greatly influence your job performance and make you a better leader.
To grow your confidence in sales meetings, keep these seven points in mind and you will always be confident and in control of the meeting.
Salespeople and executives are designed to listen. There is a belief that a salesperson has to talk a lot. Wrong! “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent,” as Alfred Brendel said. Listening is the key to understanding your client’s business and their needs, thus establishing a trusting relationship and keeping your confidence high. The old saying, “Silence is golden,” is as applicable today as it was back in 1831, when poet Thomas Carlyle translated it from German in the novel Sartor Resartus.
Face-to-face meetings are priceless.
Face-to-face meetings connect you to your audience in ways that a phone conversation cannot. These personal meetings are instrumental in building successful relationships. In the meeting you have the opportunity to build a relationship that can last decades. Spending time together helps you and your client to understand each other and find the best fit between each other’s values.
Make sure you have the right audience.
Ask intelligent questions that clarify the discussion and help you determine if the people in the room are decision makers or if they need someone else’s approval before making a purchasing commitment. It is extremely important to be articulate, have great ideas, vision, values and communicate the success you have had in business so far, so they see you as a leader and a driver of creativity. You want them to trust that you will be able to do a lot for them, going forward.
Be authentic, stay focused, concentrate and be motivated.
You need to make the most of the time you get in a sales meeting, as you may not get a second invitation to come back to make another presentation. You have to make sure you can convey your message in order to get more face time. Put your phone away!
Get personal with your audience.
Turn your presentation into a conversation by engaging with your audience. Get them to participate in the conversation and ask questions. Long, boring presentations are for weak sales people. Your presentation has to be precise and engaging. We are all nervous in a meeting but your audience is nervous as well: They need to make decisions and risks that could negatively impact their jobs. Make sure they feel comfortable with your approach, product and confidence.
Always use positive body language.
Using positive body language allows for better engagement with your customer or audience. Also, study the body language of your attendees. Their body language can tell you whether they are engaged and interested in your presentation, or if they are bored and looking for an excuse to leave. Make sure you are always seated close to your customers in meetings, preferably next to them and not across the table. By doing this, you are becoming part of their team.
Closing the deal should be your main focus.
Steer the conversation in the right direction for both companies. A great deal is a win-win for both companies. A great strategy is the small “YES” approach. If your customer responds with yes to all your individual questions, such as:
“Are you comfortable with our offering?”
“Are you impressed with our products?”
“Are you convinced that our financial situation is strong?”
“Are you happy with your new team that will support you in the ongoing development of our relationship?
Work on getting all “YES” answers to the above questions. Once you have all yeses, you are ready to conclude the final agreement.
When meeting with your customers, don’t be nervous or apprehensive. Remember to listen actively and follow the recommendations offered; then watch your confidence soar.