On one level, we can be cynical about New Year’s resolutions. On the other, it’s a chance to surf a wave of self-development, which with a little effort, acts as a catalyst for a deeper, more permanent change.
Here are three areas to think about for those involved in closing sales.
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm” Winston Churchill
Everyone knows in sales meetings that facing “no” is a rite of passage. It is even said that every no is one step closer to a yes. We also know the value of optimism in sales: The belief that we can positively influence people. In fact, research published in the Harvard Business Review in December 2013 by Galinsky & Kilduff showed that simply writing down our ambitions in life before key meetings resulted in greater dominance and influence within a group, an effect that persisted over time. This is due to the fact that social structures and relations tend to become self-fulfilling.
Therefore, how we actively influence ourselves before client sales meetings can have a big impact on success. Athletes are trained to visualise success and there is no reason why we cannot do the same.
We tend to view a positive attitude as a binary, black or white quality. In reality there are grades of optimism, from “I think it will work” to “I am going to do everything I possibly can to ensure it will work”
What is your mind-set about your current business development opportunities?
That preparation is 90% success is nothing new. What is really the competitive edge is the discipline and consistency that we apply the principle in business development. Jordan and Vazzana in their book “Cracking the Sales Management Code” say it like this:
“A thorough call-planning exercise forces salespeople to set clear objectives for the call, plan what they intend to do, anticipate what the buyer might do in response, and identify alternative actions in case things deviate from the plan”
We could also ask, how do we make the sales meeting a real event for our client, rather than just a regular meeting? Preparation gives us the possibility to surprise, lead, challenge, demonstrate and above all, it sends a very strong signal to a client: We are organised professionals – trust us with your business and we will deliver on agreements.
Thinking about preparing a Powerpoint for your client meeting? Think again! In their “Back to the past” book, “Whiteboard Selling”, Sommers & Jenkins present data for why sales presentations using Powerpoint went wrong. 73.8% of people said that “The Speaker reads the slides to us”. What value does a sales presentation add? Despite endless quips about “Death by Powerpoint”, we still mindlessly sit there preparing another slide set for clients.
In an age of total communication overload, we really have to be a lot more demanding of ourselves and creative in our approach to client sales meetings. Communicating complex ideas is more and more the norm as we try to find ways to differentiate ourselves from competitors. How else can you get your message across? How much do you think your client remembers from your last “Presentation”?
An important goal today is to be remembered: If we can get people talking about sales meetings long after we have them, won’t that help our clients to sell us internally?
Now is the time to have a root and branch review: What kind of image do we portray? How well prepared are we? Just how motivated and success-driven are we? One top tip is to make your own “sales meeting checklist”. Just as Atul Gawande (The Checklist Manifesto) did when he transformed operating theatres using a simple checklist, why not apply the same approach to sales? If we practice excellence every day, it soon becomes a habit.