This article was originally published on Q4intelligence Crushing Mediocrity blog.
There are some basic sales tools you can and need to use to make your success more predictable, but you’re not using them. I know because I ask and I usually get the same answer.
We all know how difficult it is to put a new opportunity in the pipeline. What’s maybe even more difficult is moving that prospect forward to a successful conclusion.
Way too many producers treat that opportunity with kid gloves, taking every precaution to not inconvenience the prospect in any manner, to not ask too much of them, to not ask them to be an active participant in the sales conversation.
If you are doing this, you're approaching your opportunities in the wrong manner.
Of course, you don’t want to be a nuisance, but if your job is to help the prospect improve their situation, you have to engage them as an active participant. If they’re not willing to participate, then this is a huge red flag they’re not giving you a legitimate opportunity.
Three ways to engage your prospects
Here are three simple actions you can take that put a bit of burden on the buyer but don’t push them away. In fact, these actions will actively pull the buyer into the conversation; it will get them invested in the outcome.
1. Always send an agenda
Every meeting you organize should be preceded with an agenda. After all, if you are going to ask a prospect for an hour of his/her time and you are giving up an hour of your own, everyone should want to know it is going to be an hour well spent. How can you ensure that’s the case unless you plan for, and agree, what productive looks like?
This doesn’t have to be anything overly complex. Simply send an email a day or two prior to the scheduled meeting. The email should be concise and clear:
- Remind the prospect of the purpose of the meeting. Is it to get acquainted and explore potential alignment? Maybe it’s to uncover areas of need. Or, maybe it’s a final meeting, and it’s time to make that decision about working together. Do not be afraid of stating the purpose of the meeting; an interested buyer will appreciate the transparency and clarity.
- List the key items to be discussed that will help move you toward the decision the meeting is intended to facilitate. Keep it simple. Bullet point items are perfect.
- Establish what each party needs to do in order to be prepared for the meeting.
- Ask if the prospect has anything to add.
By simply sending an agenda, you will demonstrate your professionalism. It will become clear to the buyer that this is an important meeting, that you are going to show up prepared, that you expect them to show up prepared, and that this will be a productive meeting.
2. Assign homework
Developing a dialogue with your prospect is going to be way more effective than the typical monologue your competition forces on the prospect. But, to get to a dialogue, you have to get the prospect engaged in the process. There is no better way to get them engaged than to give them an assignment.
The goal of the sales process should be to determine your ability to help them address needs and achieve better results. To help facilitate that end goal, give them an assignment to define what they want to accomplish over the next year or two. Ask them to reflect on these questions:
- What are some significant goals you would like to accomplish in your business, HR/Benefit program, and/or Risk Management program over the next couple of years?
- What are three things you are doing now that makes you think that can happen?
- What are three things you need to change or start doing in order to make it happen?
Send this pre-work ahead of time and you will be shocked at how much information the prospect will provide you before you ever meet. They will tell you what goals you can help them meet, and they will tell you what is broken in their current situation that you can help them fix. You will be delivering value to them before you even meet.
And, don’t stop with homework assignments before the meeting. Based on what you uncover during the meeting, afterwards, assign them an article to read, a video to watch, or some other assignment that will help pull them further into the process of understanding and solving the problems you help them identify.
The harder you make them work to work with you, the more likely it will be to happen. May seem counter intuitive but it’s true.
3. Send a summary email
Finally, don’t let all of your good work and conversations go to waste. I know the detail in which you are able to relive those great sales conversations. I know how important the conversations are to you and how convinced you are of the importance to the prospect.
And, yeah, they are important to your prospect, but NEVER think they are going to remember the details of the meeting like you do. In fact, not only will they not remember the details, they will have forgotten a majority of what you discussed within a day or two.
Don’t let that happen.
Before they completely forget what you discussed and why it’s important, follow up with another clear and concise email. This time, instead of it being an agenda of what will be discussed, summarize they key points of what was discussed during your meeting.
- Highlight the key moments of the meeting, specifically the needs you identified.
- Remind them of the significance of addressing those needs and how they can be negatively impacted operationally and/or financially if those needs aren’t addressed.
- Remind them of the next steps you agreed to, the timing of those steps, and who is responsible for which items.
Not only will they appreciate the summary of your meeting, this follow up email will actually help to keep the conversation clear in their mind. By providing them with the key pieces of your discussion, they will have a framework on which to attach more of the details and retain it long term.
No, it’s not rocket science
Sadly, it doesn’t take much to stand above your competition. Take advantage of this reality.
By simply communicating with your prospect consistently and professionally before, during, and after each meeting, you will help them be more engaged with the conversation. With engagement on their part comes confidence in what you can do for them. And, with confidence in you and your ability, you will find them more willing to move forward to a conclusion that ends in your favor.