How can we ensure that the prospect and the sales person are on the same page?
How can we differentiate ourselves from all other sales people the prospect may meet?
After you or one of your sales people have come back from a sales call, what do you do? It was a great call! You and the prospect(s) seemed to have 'clicked' during the meeting.
As far as you are concerned this opportunity is moving in the right direction and you are excited about it. However, how do we know that what we think happened in the meeting is what the prospect thinks happened in the meeting?
Think about this for a moment!
An illustration of this idea is when my son was in a motorcycle accident about 4 years ago. He decided to sue the other driver for pulling out in front of him.
As he got ready for the trial his lawyer got depositions from 5 witnesses, the other driver and him. I had an opportunity to read the eye witness accounts of the witnesses, the driver and my son. Guess how many versions of that accident I read?
7 (seven) versions!! Which one was the truth?
Each person saw, heard and witnessed something different! Each one had their version of the truth! That was very revealing to me!
I thought about it in terms of working with prospects and customers. It reinforced for me a valuable lesson about people's perception of reality! Each person may have a different version of what occurred in a meeting and what is the truth!
I have concluded that I definitely need to document meetings between myself, prospects and customers when important items are discussed!
It's not unusual that when asking sales people and managers if they write letters to their prospects, you hear, "Of course I do!" When asked what the letter contained here are some examples of the content:
- I thanked them for meeting with me
- I said I am excited to work with them
- I reviewed what I had showed them about us during the meeting
- I reiterated how we are considered to be "the best" in our industry
- I said I would be in touch to schedule another meeting
What strikes you about those items? Who is this letter about? You are right! It's about the sales person and what they think! If we are going to be Customer Centered and ensure that the prospects eye witness account of what happened is accurate, then we should document it.
This letter should be about them! What should be in this letter? My suggestions are that the letter should discuss:
What bad things can happen if we don't ensure that the prospect and we heard and believe the same thing?
- Specific business goals they said they had that we know we can help them achieve. What are they?
- What is their current situation? Why can't they reach or exceed their goals?
- What are the capabilities they said and/or agreed they need to change their business operations?
- What is the value they say will occur if they change the way they do things today?
- What is the next step? Should other key personnel be included in this evaluation?
- If you think others are needed, then ask for the opportunity to talk with them!
- Ask them to review the letter for accuracy as it is important that you correctly understand their current situation!
- We make an assumption about needs, value and next steps? But, it's our opinion!
- Remember what assume means?
- I move forward in a buy/sell cycle thinking I understand the 'truth'. But, the buyer doesn't agree. Now what?
- I may assume the buyer wants products or services they don't need and I price the product/service too high!
- I leave out products or services the buyer may want! My competitor doesn't! Whose solution looks better?
- Because I didn't clarify the current situation in subsequent meetings disagreements on what to do may occur? That can lead to objections! Now I'm forced to address objections that may not have even occurred if I had clarified things in writing.
If you write the kind of letter described above what could happen when you contact the prospect to review the letter? What might they think about you?
Here are examples of what sales people tell me their prospects say about these types of letters:
- "You do understand our situation. You are one of the few that bothered to ask us about it."
- "I want to complement you on taking the time to help me clarify our situation."
- "I have shown this letter to other people inside the company and we would like to learn more about your products and services!"
- "I have a good understanding of what we need to change in our business!"
Consider what they may not say, but, think about you! You listened! You demonstrated that you understand their business situation! You didn't talk about you, but, about them!
We know that people like to talk about themselves. We know that they will share important information with those people they feel can help, and add value to their business situation.
Accurately documenting what they have said and what needs to be done allows us to become a part of a solution they may consider!. As I have said many times, I can win by differentiating my company with my products and services and HOW I sell!!