Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How To Cut To The Chase In Your Next Prospect Meeting

Greetings from Houston Texas, where I will be training young Jedis this week and presenting at the HPMA on social networking

Did you ever feel like your appointment was turning into a game of 20 questions and you are like one question away from asking “So is it animal or mineral already dude?”

I never really understood the guessing game dynamic that many meetings take on. Our prospects are busier than ever and simply don’t have the time for guessing games.

Wouldn’t it be cool if there were one question you could ask on the front end of the meeting to get everyone on point without the guessing game? Well; the good news is that there is but first, you need to make sure you read last week’s post on starting your meetings with impact!

Once I’ve opened with an agenda statement and I’ve asked if there is anything they would like to add to the meeting, I transition from statement mode to question mode by saying . . .

“Great, let me start by asking you this”

I do that just in case my prospect was starting to have an outer body experience while I was talking. It’s kind of a friendly way of saying “OK, I’m about to ask you some questions, stop thinking about those TPS reports”

Then I simply ask this question:
“Granted I called you, but what prompted you to take this meeting today?”

I learned the hard way that my old question “What prompted you to take our meeting today” encouraged a response of “Well; you called me so I wanted to hear what you had to say” I found I was letting the prospect off the hook too easily and not getting something strong enough to build a line of questioning around. Adding the “Granted I called you” helped me to build a stronger foundation.

I found that by asking this simple question, I would get responses like “Well we have this project coming up and . . . “ or “We are having some challenges with . .” This enables me to spend more time on the issue instead of guessing! I still get people that say “I was curious” I can work with curious, I just like to know on the front end of the meeting.

Someone once asked if anyone seemed put off that I was jumping right to the point. I’ve never experienced a problem with this approach and I have used it in various regions of the US. Note: I have found that when a rep takes too long to get to the point with their needs analysis, prospects will become impatient. This is particularly true in our current financial climate where our prospects are now doing the work of 2-3 people due to downsizing.

One final point: We need to realize that the quality of the answers we receive increase in direct proportion to the trust we build throughout the needs analysis. Don’t be surprised if you get some very general answers. Be prepared to dig deeper, have them expand upon their thoughts, give you examples etc.

“There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation.”

James Nathan Miller

Here’s to having meaningful conversations!

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  1. Terrific initial question, Paul. All we have to sell is our time and we shouldn't waste it beating around the bush. Great advice.

  2. Well said Paul!


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Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

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Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

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