Potential customers care about one thing: Will your solutions make them more money? You’d better have that answer down pat before walking in.
In virtually every professional arena, preparation is touted as the key to success. From professional athletes to world-class musicians, some iteration of the mantra “the game is won in practice” gets tossed about by coaches and commentators. We know that getting ready for a big performance increases our chances of success.
But tell me if this sounds familiar.
One of your clients refers you to a colleague who is frustrated with their current MSP. You exchange a few emails with the prospect, and you set an appointment for next week. The days in between blur by, and a few minutes before the initial meeting, you pull up the prospect’s website and LinkedIn profile to do some last-second research before the secretary ushers you into the conference room.
This is a common story for experienced business owners and salespeople. Our comfort and extensive knowledge of our field – and frankly, the hectic nature of our schedules – can lead us to shortcut or totally omit preparing for a sales meeting. And this can cost you big opportunities, especially as you look to push beyond your bubble of referrals to conquer new markets. Don’t let this be you. Potential customers can see right through a lack preparation. Invest time in your presentation by doing the following:
- Research the prospect: The firm’s website and LinkedIn connections are OK places to start, but you should go deeper. Look at the company’s history, read up on the press it has gotten, familiarize yourself with the industry and their competitors. For example, retail and e-commerce are growing like crazy. Do you understand the challenges? If you have mutual connections, call them and ask for insights.
- Refine your questions: If you do your research properly, you can skip over basic questions, enabling you to engage in more impactful dialogue. This shows your prospects that you understand the fundamentals of their businesses and that you are committed to finding them the right solutions.
- Rehearse your sales process: We might not be Broadway actors with fine-tuned scripts, but your sales process should have a planned progression. Go over your material, practice your delivery, even consider role-playing the sale with someone in your organization. And then make sure you really listen, rather than just waiting to talk.
- Connect with your partners: If your opportunity came about as the result of a marketing campaign or an appointment-setting program, talk to your partners about what insights they may have into the prospect and why they engaged in the first place.
- Do a debrief: After you finish a meeting, reflect on what went well and what you could have done better, and learn from it. Critique your performance, talk through the experience with a sales coach, and use those lessons to improve your performances going forward.
(Related: Building a Powerful MSP Pipeline)
For those of us who’ve been in sales for a while, none of these suggestions is groundbreaking. But as our businesses grow, and as our confidence in our knowledge evolves alongside that growth, we can get cocky and begin to neglect the best practices that perhaps drove our success when we first started. Complacency is not your friend. Following these simple steps will reground you in the basics. With my clients, I consistently see this level of meeting preparation produce more high-value sales, more consistently.
It works for them, and it will work for you.