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Tuomas Haapsaari By Tuomas Haapsaari • April 21, 2016

Sales Rep, This is How You Can Prepare for and Commit Your Customer to the First Sales Meeting


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A study by the polytechnic university Haaga-Helia found that sales reps do not really prepare for a sales meeting. In practice, this means that the sales person sets up a meeting with a customer and the next contacting occurs during the actual meeting - no dialogue takes place beforehand. The sales rep asks nothing before the meeting, but depends on the first meeting to map out the situation and then based on this, they can then prepare better for the next meeting.

“No one has the time for chitchat meetings these days.”

Today, more and more people are involved with decision-making. According to the book ‘Ostovallankumous’, on average 5.4 people are involved with making purchasing decisions in organizations. Because of this, sales meetings should include as many participants as possible, both from the seller’s and the buyer’s side. It is difficult to get all decision-makers present at the first meeting, unless the customer is already very committed to this appointment. If the decision-makers are not present, decisions cannot be made.

According to the traditional sales process, the first meeting is mostly about building trust and mapping our needs. The goal for the meeting is to find out what the customer’s current situation is, while committing them to the follow-up meeting, which usually consists of a larger participant pool.

Simultaneously, research shows that the customer uses a significant amount of time on finding out about things before being in contact with the sales rep. The customer typically has a need, for which they have been looking for a solution and then they have ended up on your website and the sales pipeline. These days not very many sales organizations can utilize the customers’ changed buying behavior in their sales pipelines.

 

Think about this example from the perspective of a person interested in building a house.

These days, a person building a house asks for offers from multiple construction companies. Let’s assume that I would ask for an offer from four construction companies, and I would then set up a meeting with each company. Each sales rep has about an hour for the discussion and to create a good first impression of them. The sales rep that handles that first meeting in the best way usually is the one that is the strongest candidate for getting the contract. Let’s assume that one of these four construction companies would ask about our needs, doubts, goals and personality already before the meeting, gave tips on different subject matters and would prepare for the meeting carefully, based on advance information. The other three, on the other hand, would come chitchatting and asking about the same things face-to-face.

I believe that the sales rep that would have figured out these things already before the meeting would leave a much better and more professional first impression with us. We might think that, as the sales rep handled the situation with such a professional manner and was genuinely interested in us, the building project would also go smoothly.

 

Why is the customer not committed to the first meeting?

 

1. The customer is not familiar with what you are offering – there is not enough information available online.

2. The customer is not certain whether you are of enough help to them in the future.

3. You have not built up a relationship before the meeting.

4. You have not taken part in any kind of dialogue before meeting the customer for the first time.

5. The customer has not benefitted from you in any way before the meeting.

6. There is no clear agenda for the meeting.

All of these can be easily fixed, if they are only taken into consideration when designing the sales process. Many of these can be automated easily, so that the sales reps’ resources aren’t even needed for getting the customer to commit.

Download this guide to receive hands-on information on how to commit your customer to the first sales meeting. 

How to double your close rate with pre-meeting profiling

 

How can you get your customer to commit, already before the first sales meeting?

 

1. Give more, earlier
Focus on serving the customer much before the purchasing stage. Spread your knowledge and prove your know-how with high-quality content. Build thought leadership.

The customer begins the buying process already before contacting the sales rep. So be a part of it well in advance.

2. Marketing needs to generate pre-warmed leads to the sales team
The previously mentioned customer centric content is the key to this. Build-up conversion scores to your website. Build-up an intelligent way of scoring leads. If you do not receive enough leads, download the guide below on generating leads. 

How to convert your website visitors into new leads?

3. Start the sales process online
When a pre-warmed lead is delivered to the sales team, refine it before the meeting. Find out the customer’s current situation, needs, personality traits and values, already before the meeting. Finding out the customer’s personality traits is an important part. According to the polytechnic university Haaga Helia’s MANIA-study, differences between personality traits of the sales rep and customer can hinder sales.

“A rakishly spontaneous sales rep is not the best negotiation partner, by personality type, to a purchasing director who expects a systematical and organized negotiation partner.”

Together with a frontloaded sales process, you can find out the previously mentioned matters, increase the priority level of the upcoming meeting and gather all of the decision-makers together already to the first sales meeting. When you focus on making the pipeline work well, it helps even the newbie sales reps to reach the top-notch level easier. 

4. Utilize the knowledge you have about your customer when preparing for the meeting
When you know things about your customer already before the meeting, prep work becomes very valuable. Use this information to your advantage when formatting the solution proposal. You can amaze your customers with a rough draft of a solution already at the first meeting. The first meeting should, for the most part, be used for fine-tuning the proposal together with your customer.

“The salesperson with the most knowledge about their customer’s need is usually in the strongest position.”
- Jari Sarasvuo

When you build your sales pipeline to be intelligent, the role of face-to-face meetings does not diminish, but in fact it increases significantly. Therefore it is important for sales reps to prepare for meetings with care. When you have knowledge on the customer’s current situation, needs and personality traits already before the face-to-face meeting, you have the opportunity to make already the first meeting into a high-quality encounter. 

Automate your digital sales pipeline and amaze your customers with an amazing purchasing experience.

How to double your close rate with pre-meeting profiling

This blog references an article written by Minna Kiistala in Kauppalehti: http://www.kauppalehti.fi/uutiset/john-wayne--myyjan-aika-on-ohi/Pmx7XKcf


Tuomas Haapsaari

Former CMO at ZEF. Interested in #interactivecontent #hubspot #marketingautomation #inboundmarketing #sales #leadership #gptw