Like anything worthwhile, being effective at sales takes time, effort, and dedication. But everyone can become better at sales.
Getting better at sales is simple. Start with the fundamentals. You can significantly improve your sales effectiveness by developing good habits and executing them consistently.
And best place to start is with the sales call itself. Each opportunity for direct customer face-to-face time is a chance to advance the overall sales process, so optimizing your effectiveness here has enormous payoff.
This post and the next few in this series outline the ten simple steps that every sales professional should adhere to. And this first step sets the foundation and establishes the momentum for everything that follows.
So let’s get started.
Step 1: Begin With The End In Mind
You’ve scheduled a sales call. Now what? Is it the first real sales call, or the fifth? Is it a discovery meeting, or a big formal presentation? Whatever the circumstances, you need to be prepared. You will want to have a plan and a process.
But before you can effectively formulate that plan, you should first invest time and think about where this specific call or meeting should end up. You need to begin with the end in mind.
Ask yourself the important first questions: What is your desired outcome? What does this successful meeting look like? What did you learn, and what did you accomplish?
Hopefully, you know what you aim to achieve by the meeting’s final minutes, whether it’s an agreement to have a next meeting, or a verbal commitment, or a detailed implementation discussion.
More even more important to every successful sales call, what is the client’s desired outcome? They agreed to the meeting, so they clearly have expectations. What are they? Do you know? Are you prepared to address them? Are there advocates or coaches attending that support your solution? What exactly do you think they want to learn and happen by the time you’ve wrapped up this meeting?
Because, in the final analysis, it’s all about the customer.
Once you truly know their meeting objective(s) and your own, do this. Create a simple little Venn diagram that overlaps your objectives with your client’s
What does it look like? Does it look like this?
Or… is this more like it?
Thinking about your next upcoming sales call in this admittedly unconventional fashion can be illuminating because, with this simple exercise, you’re qualifying the opportunity. You’re estimating the customer/product fit, and determining if there is a significant gap.
We don’t need 100% overlap, but we are striving for something close. We’re aiming for aligned goals and objectives between you and you customer.
This can be as simple as ‘they want to solve ABC problem’ and ‘your solution solves 90% of their ABC problem, plus it addresses their DEF problem, and I want to get them to understand they have both problems.’
This is a much better product/customer fit than if your objective is to get them ‘to only solve their DEF problem.’ It doesn’t mean you don’t have a legitimate sales opportunity, but it does mean your objectives are different from those of your client.
With this awareness, both of your customer’s desired outcome as well as your own, you can then begin to reconcile any gaps (or chasms) that you’ve identified.
Which is the next step. Step Two. Your sales plan and process.