Sales can be one of the hardest parts of running a business. If you are not blessed with the talent of being able to sell ice in Greenland, sales meetings can sometimes feel forced and pushy – for yourself and your customer. The real art of sales is to create an environment in which your customers feel comfortable and understood. Nobody wants to be pressured into buying something. And even if they are, you can be sure they will never come back. What can you do to rock that sales meeting and sell without being pushy?
Before the Sales Meeting
Believe in Yourself and in Your Product/Service
A fundamental ingredient for your sales recipe is that you believe in yourself and your products/services. If you do not believe in it yourself, why would potential customers? You are your first and most important brand ambassador. People can feel it if you doubt yourself and tell them things you do not support 100%. Therefore, before every sales meeting, remind yourself WHY you are doing this, why this product is the best thing happening to your customers and why you know best.
Know Your Audience
Do your homework about your target audience. This actually starts way before the sales meeting. A beautiful marketing strategy which does not consider your customers’ real needs will fail. When you plan your marketing campaign, invest enough time and effort into understanding who is your target market and what are their needs? Get out there and talk to potential customers. You can do that with informal talks or more formalized tools such as questionnaires, interviews or focus groups.
Understanding your audience will help you anticipate the questions or problems your customers may have and, consequently, address them appropriately. It also prevents you being stuck in an embarrassing situation where you do not know the answer or overlooked a crucial factor.
Always Be Prepared
Always know the key information about your business. I even learned some phrases buy heart. For example, when somebody asks you about your business, be able to state your mission with one sentence only. Keep this sentence simple and easy to understand. This sounds very basic but the longer you need to explain your business or if or the more “complicated” words you use, the more likely your counterpart will lose their interest. Therefore, have a nice catch phrase which will make people ask for more.
You should always be up-to-date with the key features of your product and services. Furthermore, always bring additional business cards and info material with you to your meeting. The best thing is to let your product/service speak for themselves.
Build up a Network
In sales you need to apply the mindset that every person you meet could potentially become your customer. And even if they themselves do not end up with you, they might recommend you to their network. I find it easier to make sales with people with whom I have had the chance to build up a relationship before the actual sales meeting. This relates to the fact that we tend to buy from people/brands we trust. It does not mean that you can only sell to your friends and family. It rather means that you have to build up a strong network over time, show interest in the people you meet and build up trust.
Choose the Right Location
If you can choose the location, pick the right one. Assess what is best suited for your meeting: your own office, your customer’s office or a neutral place like a café or restaurant. In case of the latter, make sure to pick one with the right ambience – not too noisy, easy to find and creating the right vibe for your meeting.
Create a Non-Sales Environment
In addition to the right location, it is up to you to create the right vibe. Never ever open the conversation with your sales pitch. Imagine arriving at a meeting and being bulldozed over by the other person. Use the first few minutes for small talk – REAL small talk. Show interest in the other person, try to assess how their day is going. All of this not only creates a nice environment but also is valuable information for you how the meeting might go.
Actively Listen to Your Customers
Most crucial but very often ignored – actively listen to your customers. Everyone of us loves to talk but at the same time we expect our counterpart to listen to us. The majority of people actually consider the best conversations they had as the ones when they felt that their counterpart was listening. Hence, listen to your customers and let them do the talking. It makes them feel that you care about their needs. And this is actually what you should do: Your customers tell you everything you need to know about the needs of your target audience. Furthermore, show them that you are listening – take notes and make sure your body language reflects it as well (by gestures such as the occasional nodding).
If you think the product will not be the right thing for your customer or that it has to be adapted to their needs, be honest. It is really not worth talking your customer into something which will make them unhappy. This will only result in bad reputation for you and your brand.
Let me tell you an example: I had a sales pitch with a client who was extremely interested. However, there was one fundamental factor which did not prevent the sale per se but could have resulted in a big problem for the customer at a later stage. I was very upfront and informed the customer that they might not know about this issue. I added that I could just sell to them omitting that fact but that I preferred to be honest, solve that situation first and will get back to them. And you know what? It even increased their interest because it showed that I am not full of sh** and take care about my customers.
What is your experience with sales meetings? Do you have any tips you would like to share with us here?