Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I am not here to sell you anything

In a recent debrief from a sales appointment I discussed the sales call with two of my people.  As it turns out the prospect is not qualified and we might have been able to determine that beforehand.  However, the long drive and meeting was worth the time. 

For several reasons.

One, in person is always better.  Body language, voice tonality, and message are more easily communicated.  You know if you have their interest and when these three clues are in synch, you know you are communicating.

Two, the result is not as important as is the process.  Control what you can.  Which is yourself.  You do your part and the rest is a learning experience.  Next time will be better as will the time after that.  Doing is learning.  You can read all the books you want about anything, say hitting a baseball, but until you are holding the bat and swinging, it is just a theory.

Three, and this is really the point of this writing.  My meeting started with a short discussion of why I was there, the expectation that we would both have questions, an estimate of time allotted along with an agreement that at the end of the meeting we would agree to another meeting or agree that we did not have a good fit at this time.

This opening really relaxes everyone.  Takes the pressure off and allows for a better dialog. 

I traditionally do not show up with anything except a blank piece of paper, directions to the location and some quick notes and list of questions.  I do not always need the question list and sometimes the person asks what I am looking at and I give them the list.  It shows that I, like a news reporter, am only interested in learning the facts.  I do not have a hidden agenda, like selling them something they do not need.  No organization is going to invest in and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, because of one meeting.  If a sales opportunity eventually arises great, if not that is okay too.  I am going to know that a lot sooner using this method.

We discussed their challenges and why I was there. 

Great question to open with.  “Why am I here?”  What was important enough for you to allocate this time?  Your challenges.  What business requirements do you have?  What is working now?  What is not working?  If you could change one thing, what would that be?  I also like to end the question part of the meeting by asking “What have I not asked you that you wish I had?”

Question theme:  Have you told me what is wrong?

At the end of our meeting, the person I met with expressed some gratitude.  He said that he had been in a number of meetings previously where the “sales” people came in showed a canned presentation full of features and benefits and told him what was wrong and what he had to fix. 


This company has been in business for 75 years.  They know what works and what does not.  The goal is to find solution to areas they are struggling in, whether they know those areas or not, where efficiencies can be improved to increase their profitability.

He was happy that I took the time to listen.

As it turns out they are already implementing a new system to replace two separate systems that existed from a merger and acquisition.  Neither previous system fully addressed their needs.  This was not a waste of time.  It says volumes that a company that has invested two years researching a new solution would take the time to still learn more.  To engage with someone else.  Someone who cared enough to ask some questions and focused on them. 

What I am sure of is that in the future, if challenges come up they will not hesitate to contact me to see if there is any way we can help.  In the mean time we will keep in contact with newsletters and periodic correspondence.

Perhaps your systems seem to be running well.  Perhaps not.  Maybe you would like a fresh outside opinion.  Maybe you do not know what you do not know.  We do not know who you are.  Contact us today to see how we can help.  Dolvin Consulting is here for you.  I am sure we can help.

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