Thanks to my coaching colleague in the USA, Steve Rovniak, for this article about what to focus on if you’re learning to sell.

Perhaps you’ve just started up in business, or got a new salesperson on your team who needs to learn the ropes.  Whatever it is, this article is a great reminder to keep things simple if you want to make the sale.

I am not a good golfer, but I definitely play better when I try not to think about the many, many interdependent parts of a golf swing, and the hundreds of tips and techniques I have learned and read over the years.

If I can bring myself to focus on just two things – in my case,

  1. keeping my head down, and
  2. not swinging so hard

– then many other good things occur naturally in my swing, such as proper rotation, weight shift, follow through, and so on.

Similarly, there is a long list of techniques and devices said to contribute to the most successful sales meetings, especially when it is a first meeting.  We’ve all been hearing about them for years.  And like in golf, far too many to keep top of mind in the heat of the moment.

So, as you head into a first meeting with a new prospect, rather than stuff your head with a hundred goals, and tensing up, remember just these three things.  Doing so will unleash other sales best practices naturally, and produce a much better, naturally flowing meeting.

Three Things to Remind Yourself as You Walk into a Sales Meeting

  1. This is about them, and what they wish to accomplish; not your product or service. Resist urges and requests to “pitch.”
  2. Build relationships by listening for individual goals of the people and generously offering your help any way possible, whether related to this project or not (referrals, content, etc.)
  3. Interview your customer for information critical to the sale, rather than the other way around:
    – What are the desired results of the project, or how they would define success?
    – What is the decision-making process and who are the key people?
    – What is being talked about around the board room table?

[Lee says: the first point is the key – this is all about the customer.  You must really spend time to figure out what they want before you start telling them how wonderful your services/products are. ]

You may come up with one of your own reminders to add/edit to this list, which is perfectly fine if it works. Keep them on an index card in your briefcase, and glance over them a few times as you wait in the lobby, or as you ride up the elevator.

Meetings that are oriented to these principles are far more successful because:

  • The customer has ample time to share relevant information in detail.
  • Obstacles to the sale are revealed to you.
  • You instill in your customer that your company is a trustworthy partner rather than simply a vendor.
  • You can understand the business context and can focus your solution and messaging on business benefits and the client’s desired results.

You can see more of Steve’s writing at his Boston business coach blog.