I recently shared why it’s so important to Plan Your Sales Calls. Today I’ll highlight one of the most powerful techniques to properly position yourself with a buyer and help set you apart from the crowd.
Friend and sales blogger/trainer extraordinaire Kelley Robertson and I have been feeding off each other’s posts. Last week he volleyed back with a great post entitled The Power of An Agenda. I want to pick up and expand on why reviewing your agenda is a critical step in executing a winning sales call.
Benefits of Sharing Your Agenda:
No one wants to be taken on a ride. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand not knowing where I’m going. Whether it’s a road trip or a meeting being run by someone else, I get real antsy when I don’t know where it’s headed. Give the buyer a road map of where you’re taking him/her. It’s a courtesy and in most cases, will make the person on whom you’re calling more comfortable.
Sharing your agenda is a big differentiator. Almost no one in sales does this. Certainly not well. Letting the prospect in on your plan helps position you as a professional. You look like you’ve been there and done that. Not your first rodeo. A method to your madness.
It also provides you an opportunity to demonstrate right up front that you get it – that this meeting isn’t about you. It’s a chance to ask a good question right after reviewing your plan: “That’s what I was looking to do in our time together. What would you like to get out of this meeting or what were you hoping to accomplish?” If you’re more bold, here’s an even better question I’ve used from time to time: “Why’d you invite us in?” Or “how come you agreed to visit with me?” Try it. You’ll like it.
Sharing your agenda helps you control the call. If you don’t lay out a plan for the call, then the prospect usually jumps in the driver’s seat. How often have you heard “what do you got for me?” or “alright, you’ve got your 30 minutes, go!” Even worse, how about the aggressive prospect who goes on the offensive and peppers you with questions. Before you even realize it, you’re back on your heels, being led down paths you didn’t intend to go. It’s 20 minutes into a meeting and you haven’t learned the first thing yet about your buyer or his situation.
Sharing your agenda shakes the buyer out of the I’m not listening because I just know you are about to present to (puke on) me for the next half hour. Your prospect fully expects you to pull the “show up and throw up” act he’s used to getting from the majority of salespeople. In many cases, as soon as the salesperson opens his mouth the buyer lapses into selective listening mode expecting you to launch into the typical monologue. You can actually shock a prospect by setting up the call properly. They are immediately surprised that you have a plan and are sharing it. And possibly even more surprised that you are expecting to have a dialogue.
How I Set Up The Call:
Instead of sounding preachy listing out a bunch of instructions, I think it’s best to simply illustrate how I like to share an agenda and set up the call. After the Rapport Building part of the call wraps up (which, by the way, I believe is completely dependent on how long the prospect wants it to last), here’s how I transition to business:
“Ron, thanks for inviting me in. I believe we set this up for 30 minutes. How are you on time? Great. Here’s what I’d like to do: Let me kick us off and take two to three minutes to share just a bit about ABC Ozone Aggregators, the issues we solve for facility managers and why they bring us in…and I’ll touch briefly on why we’re different and keep gaining new clients. Then I’d like to turn the tables and ask you questions to find out more about your situation and what you’re doing in QRS or how you’re approaching XYZ opportunity. Depending on what I hear from you, I’ll share a couple of relevant case studies or show you a few options of how we provide ozone aggregation. After that we can discuss if it looks we might be a fit to help you, or if there is a logical next step (or if it makes sense to get our teams together, etc…). That’s what I was hoping to do today, Ron. Tell me what what you were hoping for and what you’d like to walk away with today.”
Every phrase above is intentional. If this is a new concept for you, let me challenge you to dissect this example and then think about what you’ve been doing (or not doing) to set up your initial meetings with prospects.
Setting up the call and sharing your agenda is a huge opportunity to position yourself and your company. It’s worth the time energy to master a technique for doing it really well.