7 Tips for Successful Sales Meetings

I recently came across the infographic (below), “Don’t Suck At Meetings” and had to share it along with 7 Tips For Successful Sales Meetings:

1.  Make Sr. Management participation optional unless they need to be there

While you might ultimately need buy-in from the CEO, COO or SVP to get the deal done, if their participation isn’t required to meet a specific meeting goal, make it optional for them to join.  Ask account contacts to describe who makes various decisions in the buying cycle so you know when more expensive employees need to be in the meeting.  Also, remember your value to your company as well.  Make sure the meetings you participate in have clear goals and the right decision-makers to authorize next steps so you’re not wasting company dollars.

2.  Keep it concise

You’ll likely get more meetings and accomplish more if you keep meetings to 15-30 minutes.  Doing so, along with clearly articulating the goals of the meeting in advance will not only be more productive than longer meetings, but will also demonstrate to a prospect that you are professional, courteous and efficient.

3.  Listen

Speak less than half the time and when you do speak, ask open questions that uncover needs and lead to achieving the meeting goal.

4.  Follow up with concise collateral (with next steps)

Follow up with collateral that gives an overview of what you discussed, what you accomplished in the meeting and what you understand the next steps to be.  Ask for participants feedback and/or buy-in on what was accomplished and the next steps.

5. Present a follow up date and time

If a follow up call is part of the next steps, assign a date and time.  Try to make it within 24 hours of the meeting.  Ask participants for their feedback/buy-in on this as part of the next step.

6.  Structure emails to be easily read with clear ownership of next steps

This isn’t on the infographic, but it’s a great trick that I learned from my production team.  Bold names of the people who are responsible for next steps and create separate paragraphs for each “assignment.”  People read through emails pretty quickly and if someone “misses something” it can delay the sales cycle.  Here’s an example:

[Contact names]:

Great chatting with you today.  Thank you all so much for your time and participation.  Our goal for the meeting was to establish whether [Your Company’s Solution] was a fit for [Prospect’s Need] and I think we can all agree that our XYZ solution is a good match.  As I understand it, our next steps are to determine whether there’s  budget to get started this quarter and to see if my team can implement by month end.  Please feel free to respond if I’ve missed anything.

Bob:  I’ll send you the cost proposal under a separate cover later today.  Let’s you and I huddle up for 5 minutes tomorrow to make sure everything is in order.  I’ll go ahead and send a meeting request for 10am tomorrow, please feel free to reply with an alternate time, as needed.

Mary:  I’m happy to have my team review your project schedule to confirm we can deliver by month end.  My team is available at 11am tomorrow, so I’ll go ahead and hold that time so we can review the schedule together.  Let me know if later in the afternoon works better for you, we can also meet at 2pm.

We should have everything in place by end of day tomorrow, so I’ll go ahead and send a tentative meeting invitation to regroup on Friday at 11am.  Regards,

[Your Name]

7.  Send those LinkedIn invitations

According to the inforgraphic, more than three out of every four professionals will accept a LinkedIn invitation.  Connecting on LinkedIn is a great way for prospects to learn more about you and see who you have in common – not to mention a great way to broaden your network.



Sales 2.0 Redux – Are You A Before Or An After?

Years ago, Sales 2.0 was synonymous with Web 2.0 technologies.  For today’s marketing and sales professionals, Sales 2.0 is more than technology.  It’s a fundamental shift in mind-set that is contrary to how many of us were ‘taught” to do our jobs.  While technology brought it to life,  Sales 2.0 embodies the strategic and tactical approaches, best practices and re-thinking of how sales and marketing can more effectively meet the needs of today’s buyers.

For some, the adoption of the Sales 2.0 mentality occurred long ago.  For others, it has yet to happen. Where are you in the process?

Check out the “before” and “after” scenarios below and let me know your thoughts. Also, feel free to include your own scenarios in the comments.

Before Sales 2.0

You’d find out that your contact is no longer with the company in your monthly “stay-in-touch” call.  (Worse still, you find out from your contact’s replacement who is at the same extension.)

After Sales 2.0

Minutes after your contact has updated her LinkedIn profile with a new position, you send them a congratulations note.  Later that day, your contact invites you to discuss her needs at the new company.

Since you receive alerts from your contacts old company, a few days later you see the job posting to fill your contact’s old position.  You quickly forward it to a person you know who’d be a great fit and was looking.  They get the job and you have a very grateful new contact at the company.

Before Sales 2.0

You’d go to conferences and (awkwardly) introduce yourself to prospects you’ve been chasing for months.  They smile politely and take your card but tell you that they unfortunately “ran out” of their cards.

After Sales 2.0

You go to conferences to finally meet the people you’ve been engaging with in social media for months.  They smile at you from across the room because they recognize you from your profile picture and come over to shake your hand.  You ask them something clever about their favorite [insert hobby, activity, interest they’ve been tweeting about here] and they tell you a great story about it.  Then they say, “Let’s schedule some time to chat, I’m working on a project I think you can help me with.”

Before Sales 2.0

You received a “Contact Us” form lead with no idea what the person on the other end needs or how to prepare for the call.

After Sales 2.0

You receive a lead from a white paper download on, “Top 10 Tips To Improve XYZ.”

Before responding, you’ve looked up the contact in your CRM, reviewed their activity history and noted interesting moments from your marketing automation solution (like how they visited a high value page on ABC last week).  You also used your sales intelligence solution to get their company information, key executives and direct reports.

Now, you’re confident and prepared to discuss their XYZ and ABC needs intelligently and relevantly.

Before Sales 2.0

Your boss wanted to know why you’re on LinkedIn instead of cold-calling to that list of 1,000 contacts he bought.

After Sales 2.0

Your boss wants to know if you’d mind introducing him to one of your LinkedIn connections.

Before Sales 2.0

Success in your job was defined by your ability to handle objections, steer the conversation and “convince” prospects you were the best choice.

After Sales 2.0

Success in your job is defined by your ability to understand the needs of your prospects, present intelligent solutions to their business problems, and be a trusted source of industry knowledge and expertise.

For tips, advice and strategies for generating more leads in a Sales 2.0 world, download your free copy of Spear Marketing Group’s High-Tech Direct Marketing Handbook.

Stop Selling (and start listening, helping and connecting)

Obvious to many people in the sales trade, the time of smile and dial is far behind us.  Still, I frequently Imagecome across sales people who are beating themselves up (not to mention their prospects) with old school methods of prospecting.

Yes, selling is still a numbers game.  But, buyer mentalities have changed and so must the sales strategy.  Here are 4 basic tips to improve your sales efforts in today’s market:

1. Find a common interest

Sales really has no excuse for NOT finding a common interest or connection with a prospect in today’s world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Blogging, Online Groups/Forums/Communities, etc. Do your research and call out the common interest to gain some personal relevance.

Want more info on sales intelligence and social selling?  Check out:  www.socialsellingu.com

2. Leverage marketing content

Good marketing content has a specific audience, pain point and solution in mind.  Offer relevant content to prospects to show that:

-You want to help them

-You’re interested in uncovering whether there’s a “need” before “selling” them on something

-Your company has experience solving the types of problems the prospect is likely experiencing

Check out Howard Sewell’s post on packaging offer content for higher response.

3. Don’t assume they’re a suspect just based on demographics

Just because someone is a CXO at the type of company you work with, don’t assume they’ll fall all over themselves to hire you or buy your product.  Maybe they have a need, maybe they don’t.  Maybe they’ll have a need later.  But, you’ll turn off most prospects by aggressively following up with calls and emails that all have the standard “Just following up with you on my last (insert boring follow up tactic here).”

Instead try continuing to offer helpful tips or offer to connect them with people in your network that they might be interested in meeting.  But don’t make them commit to something before they’ve engaged with you.  Let the initial engagement be on their terms.

4.  Listen (online and offline)

If you’re not “listening” to conversations online as well as offline, you’re losing out on potential opportunities.  Your prospects are offering information about their needs all the time – yet many sales people are too focused on “selling” to listen.

Use resources like LinkedIn Groups and user communities to your advantage and “listen” for pain points that you can address.  In following up, instead of responding in the community forum with a solution, sometimes it’s better to reach out personally with an offer to help.  It seems less “salesy”.  Even better, ask a client or partner that’s in the group or community to endorse you.

Avoid Being “Shanghaied” with a Synergistic Sales and Marketing Team

Heading down 13th Avenue in downtown Portland toward an appointment, a colleague started telling me the story about the Portland Underground also known as the “Shanghai Tunnels.”  Many experts rebuff these “Shanghai Tunnels” as a myth, but if you haven’t heard the story, it’s pretty interesting.
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A 2 Minute Primer on Remarketing, SFDC and Quality Scores for Paid Search

This post should take about 2 minutes to read.  When you’re done, you’ll have conversational knowledge about remarketing, SFDC and quality scores.  So, get ready to impress your friends!

A lot my time is spent answering questions that prospects and clients have about marketing, which I love doing.  I have to admit a secret, I have a fantastic paid search team that I can turn to for answers.

Recently, I had a prospect with a ton of great questions around paid search.  These folks are sophisticated marketers, so I realized that many people may be asking the same things.  I thought it would be cool to share a few of their questions (and our answers):
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Why I’m Still Talking About One Brand Experience 15 Years Later

Brand is about creating memorable experiencesContent marketing is about telling stories of memorable experiences that become engaging conversations.  Since this is the time of year to reflect on the past and consider the future, I thought about my most memorable New Year’s Eve moments.  While I’ve had many great ones surrounded by family and friends, December 31, 1996 in Las Vegas definitely resonates as the most memorable experience. Read more of this post

How Good Is Your Company’s Brand?

BrandI recently had a great discussion about brand with a new client which inspired me to write this post.  To clarify, when I say “Brand”, I’m not talking about your color palette, logo or tagline.

Your brand doesn’t come from colors or catchy phrases or images of good-looking people.  Those elements are creative assets meant to convey your brand.  Brand is something much deeper. Read more of this post

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