I’m trying really hard not to let this be a rant and to turn a bad experience into something positive. As you’ve guessed, I met with another sales rep today. I can tell you how long he’s lived in his house, his attitude on big box stores vs. “local” businesses (which is a whole other discussion and can be really interesting but I digress), he has a dog with a big tail, he needs glasses because his are broken, etc. If he knows how to pronounce my last name I’d be shocked. Let alone anything else. Give me a break!
So what can we learn from him? Give yourself an agenda for any sales meeting you have with a prospect. What do you need to know about the person before you walk out of the meeting? At a minimum, know how to pronounce their name. Write it down on your notes phonetically. That way in the future you will use it properly.
After that, give yourself a list of 4-9 things you want to know about them before they leave. If you have 30 minutes for the meeting, plan on getting the answer to one about every 3-6 minutes. That means the person gets time to talk about their answer. Think about that. If you want to know the goals for our marketing plan, that is going to be a longer answer than 30 seconds. YOU WILL NEED TO SHUT UP FOR THE WHOLE TIME. (sorry – rant sneaking in) So let’s say that answer is 2.5 minutes. You get 30 seconds to ask your question. We’ve already used up 2 minute doing the name thing. You have now used 5 minutes of 30. If you know your presentation on your tool / service / widget will take 10 minutes (and you should know because you should PRACTICE and have information AT HAND to provide), then you know you have a total of 20 for fact finding. You’ve used five. You are a quarter of the way through your fact finding time and you have two pieces of information. See why you need a plan?
So set yourself an agenda to help keep yourself on track. At the end of a meeting you have to have answers to those questions you gave yourself so if you are getting toward the 10-minute-left mark, you know to STOP TALKING. You can’t get answers unless you stop talking.
A little bit more rant – don’t look at the person’s business card and ask a question about something on it in a negative. If I have my twitter address on my business card, I bet there’s a reason. Asking “do you like that twitter?” almost sounds like “is your baby that ugly?”. Obviously I like it or I wouldn’t put in on my BUSINESS CARD. Sheesh.