Super Agent

Posts Tagged ‘meeting’

Everyone’s Plan

In a recent conversation with a producer and an account executive, they told us how they were moving through the sales process with a large account. And what they had to say about their approach is worth sharing with you here.

To start, the two of them conducted 3 separate meetings with 3 different groups of people within the organization—the feet on the street, middle management (including HR) and finally, the C-Suite. Each conversation was tailored to the needs and wants of the groups and assessments were made about the state of the company.

Then they made an interesting decision. Before going back to the C-Suite to deliver their proposal, they created a draft of it to take to the other groups. In that meeting, they presented their plan with the intent to not only gain agreements but to also collaborate. They said, “Here are our recommendations….did we miss anything?”

The result was enormously powerful.  The feet on the street people and the middle managers became invested in the plan, and everyone at all levels of the organization eagerly anticipated the next step—the meeting with the C-Suite. It became everyone’s plan, and everyone had a stake in it being received well.

Too often, we see producers trying to get around this person or that person in order to get to the people at the top who really make the decisions. But that’s a mistake. Engaging with teams of buyers at all levels is becoming more common, and, as this story demonstrates, if you can get the entire organization on board so that they are invested in the success of the proposal, you win.

Face-to-Face

With the rise of new communication technologies and the Internet, face-to-face interaction has been largely replaced by conference calls, emails, or text messages. But, although these modes of communication are necessary and important, don’t underestimate the value of engaging with someone in person.

In one of our first blog posts, we talked about an agent with a difficult issue who discussed the challenge with us and set a strategy for moving forward. Then, the agent asked: “Should I send my client an email detailing what we’ve discussed?”

In these types of situations, where important issues need to be resolved or discussed, an email doesn’t leverage the most powerful aspects of communication. In an article on Forbes, contributor Carol Goman wrote: “In face-to-face meetings, our brains process the continual cascade of nonverbal cues that we use as the basis for building trust and professional intimacy. Face-to-face interaction is information-rich. We interpret what people say to us only partially from the words they use. We get most of the message (and all of the emotional nuance behind the words) from vocal tone, pacing, facial expressions and body language.”

Investing your time and attention with your clients by having a conversation in person is the best way to resolve the tough issues. And, it’s also important to check in (in-person) periodically with your most important clients in order to sustain and grow the business relationship.

When was the last time you had a face-to-face meeting with a long-time client? Did you have an in-person meeting with a client the last time you were working to resolve a big issue?

Follow-Up After 1st Meetings

First meetings are the gateways to successful business relationships, and are increasingly more difficult to come by, but many producers aren’t effectively making the best of them. Even those who have successfully positioned a meeting by developing an agenda with specific goals and objectives to cover, sending it to the prospect beforehand and sticking to it are often missing a key last step in the process: providing meaningful follow-up.

It’s important to send your prospect an email or letter outlining the key aspects of your meetings, including issues identified, opportunities to be gained, strategies and next steps. According to an article on The Marketing Donut, “research shows… potential opportunities are lost without trace simply due to lack of follow-up. People and companies who don’t follow-up, who do nothing to build up that trust and relationship, cannot succeed, especially in today’s tough economic climate.”

Following up with your prospect not only provides you with an  opportunity to re-emphasize your value and differentiate from your competitors, it will also ensure that you have a record of the sales process and of your communication with the prospect to be used as a springboard in your next meeting or as a learning tool if the relationship doesn’t move forward.

Did you follow-up after your last 1st meeting? It sounds simple, but making this modest change can make a big difference if you’re looking to stop being commoditized and to successfully lead buyers.

It’s All About the Conversation

A common practice that we see during coaching calls with producers is that many of them are using language that creates push back or resistance from the prospect. They have the capabilities necessary to help employers get better, and they want to engage in a consultative way but they’re too quick to revert back to agency focused assertions rather than having an open dialog. So, they’ll say “we have this unique process”, “we don’t go out for bids”, or “the way you’re engaging is flawed and puts you in danger.”

These statements may all be true, but a more effective approach is to invite the prospect into the conversation with conditional language. Conditional language means you’re not telling the prospect what’s wrong or what you do differently. Instead, you’re asking pointed questions that help them to gain new insights about their current state, self-discover risks, and move toward that “Aha” moment that leads to change. Think about using phrases like, “Let’s assume…” or “What if it were the case that…”

The RAIN Group says this about the power of conditional language: “Open-ended sales questions are great for helping us to find out what’s going on in our prospects’ and clients’ worlds. They help us connect with buyers personally, understand their needs, understand what’s important to them, and help them create better futures for themselves.”

Here is an example of a question that uses conditional language to achieve a better response and effect than “we have a unique process”:

“What if you were to discover that the process you’re engaged in is actually creating barriers to what you’re trying to achieve?”

Changing the conversation in this way can make a big impact when you’re goal is to lead a prospect to see a future that you’re a part of. We challenge you to try out this approach during your next sales meeting. Did you see better results? Let us know in the comments.