It doesn’t matter what we do for a living, we all sell. We are all faced with that moment in time when we are standing (or sitting) in front of a group or 1- 100 people with a message and an objective. We are looking for a decision of some type or we are planting seeds for a decision down the road.
My daughter is constantly selling in her role this summer as the retail manager of a club in Georgian Bay. There she deals with board members, suppliers, employees and sometimes even customers.
My friend Brian is constantly selling in his role as chief evangelist for a company in the energy and sustainability field.
My wife is selling more and more as she explores a new charity idea in Collingwood.
And project managers are constantly called on to sell as we deal with customers, stakeholders and team members
We all sell.
But, unless you are a lifetime member of the ‘I can sell anything, to anyone at any time’ club – this is not easy.
I will admit that I don’t think I am great at this but, for some reason I was asked recently for some tips on how manage this part of my life.
- Ask ‘Why?’. Why are you there and why do you think the people or person on the other side of the table is there? Both are critical questions. The latter question is so important. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, ‘why am I here and what can this company do for me? What are my issues, problems, requirements and do they understand? ‘If you know this, the meeting will be direct, clear and deliver the exact information that THEY want.
Confirm your assumptions right upfront. If you have it right, you will have their respect. If you don’t, then it’s time to regroup. I have often been on the receiving end and heard the sales teams’ assumptions at the start and was pleased to be able to stop them, make the corrections and let them move on with a bit more clarity and purpose.
- POP them. You have 2 minutes to get their attention. If you miss this window, your chance of success will be diminished. Forget the usual boring introduction and skip the detail about you. Go right to the heart of the issue or solution – immediately. Start with the last slide. Shock them.
- Review the timing and agenda. This comes AFTER the POP. Be sure everyone is onside with time constraints and the agenda. If required, this is the time to go over administrative details important to the meeting – washrooms, break, food and coffee – the really important stuff!
- Introduce your business briefly, highlighting only the important stuff. They have already researched you, so they know the basics. They are there because they have a need and they don’t want to hear all about you… yet.
- Tell a story. This might even be the POP, but your meeting pitch should have a story. “Back in 2006, we walked into the office of XYZ Corp. in Chicago and heard about a company with a future – strong, healthy and profitable. But they had a problem…. “. This helps me identify with you and your services because they are just like me!
- Be sure you have identified the key people and do NOT assume that this is the most senior person in the room. You can succeed at convincing the CEO, but the key person might be the CIO or the senior technical person. Without their approval, your products will never make it in those doors.
A few words about slide decks. Drop the detail. Hand out the visual support in a readable (8 1/2 X 11, 12 pt. Times Roman) format AFTER the meeting and please include an executive summary. If I walk away with a powerpoint slide printout that is barely readable, it is a waste of time and paper.
Instead, keep your slides simple, clean and brief.
Slide 1 cover page
Slide 2 a graphic of your organization – AFTER the POP. Here is where you talk about your organization – but one slide only.
Slide 3 agenda or approach to the meeting
Slides 4,5,6… one slide for every section or product or service – image and title only.
Next time you have to meet with a group of people or one person to sell, influence or get buy in, think of these 6 tips:
- after open
- short intro
- tell a story
- ID the key person
And scale down those slides.