When your customer takes a meeting with you or your sales team, your team has to deliver — with value, relevance and consistency. You need to bring your A-game, because every communication touch point you have with your customer or prospect impacts your long-term relationship, including the value you can ultimately deliver to them.
Many salespeople leave most of their customer meetings with the thought, “That went pretty well.”
Yet surveyed prospects deem 89% of meetings as failures and B2B buyers believe just 8% of salespeople focus on driving “valuable” end results for the buyer (Forrester Research). Meanwhile, 56% of all buyers rate their buying experience as “less than satisfied” (DemandGenReport).
This is not the customer’s or prospect’s problem — this is a problem sales leaders and their teams must address, as their revenue performance hangs in the balance.
In this article, we will tackle how to prepare for your meetings with buyers, how to serve your buyers during the meeting, and how to follow-up to ensure you will serve your buyers for the long haul.
1: Planning Ahead for Meeting Success
Salespeople land meetings with buyers sometimes on a moment’s notice. Whether you have an hour or a month before your meeting, always make the time to prepare. Here are three things I strongly encourage you make a priority in your meeting preparation.
1) Aspire for a more personal meeting.
You may be tempted to take the easiest route of communicating your solution: email. I urge you to push for a phone call — or even better, a face-to-face meeting. In person, you can read nonverbal cues, take better control of the situation and show your buyers that you are there 100% to serve their needs. Think how many other solutions are sitting in their inbox. Set yourself and your solution apart by investing in some face-time.
2) Do your research.
According to a CSO Insights report, just 47% of salespeople believe that they understand the buyer’s situation before pitching a solution. Even worse, just 42% of those same salespeople surveyed think they can effectively deliver a compelling value proposition.
Know your customer, and know their industry and their business. Learn your prospect’s pains. Your buyer will be impressed with your insights on their current business outlook. They will be even more thankful when you can educate them on new challenges in their industry and likely impacts on their business. You will then be positioned well to lead them to solutions that will help them stay ahead and prepare for what is to come — giving them a competitive advantage.
3) Work with marketing to create the right sales-ready assets.
Sales professionals waste two days a week creating sales cycle content (CMO Council). Marketing departments are equipped with professionals who specialize in creating these materials, while you and your sales professionals’ time is best invested engaging, communicating and serving prospects. Instead of doing all the work yourself, partner with your marketing team to create these vital assets.
2: Serving Your Buyers During the Meeting
By this point, you should have done more than enough research to understand your buyer’s situation and lead a valuable meeting. In order to ensure your value gets communicated, keep these three things in mind.
1) Position the conversation from your buyer’s point of view — not yours or your company’s.
When you position your conversation and your pitch from their situation and perspective, you make the meeting about their needs — not your solution. You add value to their business, rather than guiding the conversation to help your own company make a sale. And, most importantly, you become a member of their team (a “trusted partner” you might say), not an outsider.
Show you truly care about their needs by being an expert in their industry. Discuss with the buyer the research you did leading up to the meeting and leverage that knowledge to share insights with them and leading practices that can enhance their process execution. And begin to establish a business case for where they really need your help. At this point in the conversation, it is more about where they need to improve and less what you have to offer.
2) Leverage the sales-ready assets marketing created to communicate your story.
These assets can bring your story and solution to life and help show your buyer the value you can deliver that others cannot. Plus, these pieces arm your buyer with tools they can then take to other stakeholders within their company who may hold a role on the decision-making committee.
Consider bringing a hard copy of the following with you or emailing them over as a follow-up to the meeting:
- Any value messaging and related industry insights relevant to that buyer
- Your unique value proposition
- Relevant client value stories that would resonate with that buyer
3) Do not avoid difficult conversations — embrace them.
During the course of interacting with your buyer you are going to encounter some push-back. Seize the opportunity while you are with them to address their concerns.
Objections can feel like defeat, but if you embrace them and see them as opportunities to clarify the true value of your solution, you will continue to draw the buyer in to your story and lead them closer to solving their pain. Use the objection they are voicing to get to the heart of what their concern truly is, and seek clarification where necessary. Each time you are able to tackle a concern and provide calm to their worry, you are one step closer to the “yes.”
Often before your buyer is willing to pull the trigger on choosing you, they will want to make sure the outstanding questions in their mind — or the ones their boss will ask them — have been put on the table and appropriately addressed. Do not be timid, but do not be abrasive either. Maintain the posture of serving them first, which you established from your initial interaction.
3: Serving your Buyers in the Follow-Up
All it takes is one unsavory interaction for your buyer or prospect to see you as a pesky salesperson rather than the trusted advisor you wish to be. After you have led your buyer or prospect through a successful meeting, maintain your momentum by providing valuable follow-up interactions.
The following three post-meeting communication touch points have helped me serve my prospects and customers well.
1) The same day after the meeting email.
I have found value in touching base with my prospect or client a couple hours after a meeting through email. This email is a casual, non-intrusive way to:
- Thank them for their time.
- Recap what we discussed in the meeting.
- Reiterate agreed-to action items for both myself and my client.
- Share any value pieces — like blog posts, articles, statistics — that we touched on in the meeting and I have promised to provide.
2) A week after the meeting or as-scheduled follow-up call.
As you did during your meeting, continue to position your topics of conversation from your buyer’s or prospect’s perspective. Use these follow-up calls to:
- Reiterate the buyer’s pains and desired gains.
- Walk them through how your solutions help reach those gains.
- Share any additional research or insights you have uncovered since your last interaction (remember to always look for more ways to serve your buyer).
- Provide any information your buyer requested at the meeting that took time to gather.
3) Periodically “touch base” after the meeting, once a month or so.
Proactively make time for your clients and prospects. Go for coffee when you visit their area. Send relevant articles or insights as you run across them. Ask them out to lunch and/or meet them in their office, if it is convenient for them. Show you care about more than a sale by asking intentional questions and actually listening to their responses.
I genuinely enjoy building relationships with clients. Not because it benefits my business — though it often does – but because it positions me in a way to better serve that client with valuable, relevant discussions and solutions. Plus, I genuinely come to care for these people and their success and happiness.
When looking for reasons to follow up with your prospect throughout the long term, ask yourself:
- How can I help them reach their personal goals?
- How can I make their job easier for their professional goals and their overall organization’s goals?
- Where can I provide any value that could help them exceed goals?
- What insights have I run across about their industry or business that I can share?
Each touch point with you customer is vital. Plan, engage and follow-up in ways that serve your buyer and aid them in their personal and professional success. By doing this you will become the trusted advisor they are looking for.
If you would like more insight and guidance on how to better serve your clients before, during and after meetings, please reach out to us at email@example.com