Your last sales meeting. Do you remember?

So it’s finally time. After a successful analysis of the market, you’ve found a company that requires your services. You’ve managed to peak their interest enough to move on to the next step – the long-awaited visit to their office.

This is where yesterday’s sales rep is separated from tomorrow’s.

This is when it happens. Whether or not you are sufficiently prepared will be revealed within the next 45 minutes. It’s like the second half of a soccer match. It can feel very short, or very long. Are you prepared for the meeting? Have you done your research? How well you have prepared is entirely decisive.

If you have ever stood before a customer and haven’t found the right words, haven’t found the next step that will carry the meeting forward, you know what I am talking about. The customer begins to squirm and look at his watch during the sales meeting that you organized.

Was that a poorly concealed yawn you just saw? How can he be so rude?

Or is it you who comes to a meeting and gives the same presentation you’ve used for the past three years, in the same way with the same flat tone and without any engagement? Doesn’t the customer deserve more?

Setting aside time to meet with you shows that there is interest. If we haven’t taken advantage of this, we have lost our right to take up the customer’s time.

If you recognize this situation, you know that you were not sufficiently prepared for the sales meeting that you were actually working for. Because if you were, you would have felt feelings of control, joy, self-confidence and perhaps even euphoria. You have probably experienced this as well, that meeting that went exactly as planned. Everything was right and you and the customer found a flow.

It was a unique experience, when time stood still and everything just felt natural.

Like when you and a colleague are discussing the challenges your company is facing. You are much the same, think the same and are working towards the same goals. You know what? You can have that same feelings with customers.

It’s rare that we reach this level, but when it happens, we know it. It’s wonderful. Why is it that we who work with sales, don’t try to attain this level more often? Is it that we’re just lazy by nature and don’t go to the trouble of preparing for the sales meeting that we initiated ourselves?

Could it be that we haven’t put more than 30 minutes into preparations before we walk into the customer’s office to explain why they should work with us in particular?

Think pull, not push!

I can’t emphasize this enough, because we continue running around to our meetings thinking push, push, push. What’s the purpose of describing our products and services if the customer doesn’t even know they need them or have any desire to make changes? Talking about ourselves at an initial meeting is just as outdated as focusing on our own sales process. The sales meeting agenda you were using 10 years ago is useless now.

So why do we continue with it if it doesn’t work? I have a big part of the answer – everyone is just as bad, so we get away with it.

I often talk about how we go about structuring our meeting presentations. Why do we insist on using PowerPoint when there’s a whiteboard in the room? PowerPoint is rigid and only supports one-way communication. If the meeting should change directions, we’re in trouble if we’re relying on a PowerPoint presentation.

A whiteboard is interactive. It invites dialog with the customer. A whiteboard gives you the opportunity to adjust and change your presentation based on how the meeting develops. A whiteboard is a lively and fun way of conducting a meeting.

Make the change now before it’s too late!

A warning for you – things are changing out there.

Those who don’t appropriately react to the changes are going to be left behind. It’s just a matter of time. With automation and the shift of power to the buyer, there is no room for talking brochures.

So which sales people will survive? Those who make the kinds of contributions that can’t be automated. Tying together those loose ends that are all around us. These sales people will be even more relevant than ever in the future. These are the ones who create value.

So which are you? Who do you want to be? The brochure or the one who creates value?


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