In this series, I take you through eight key steps to plan your B2B sales meetings in a way that sets you apart from the competition.
By building continuous momentum, providing value, and advancing sales at each step, you will ultimately get more (and faster) closed business.
Preparation is the secret to closing sales – and it needs to happen for every encounter with a prospect. Before each meeting, answer three key questions:
Why should this client meet with me?
What do I want my client to do?
How can I provide value in this encounter?
Step 3: Research your client
“Want to sell more? - Forget closing techniques, master your discovery calls” – Chris Orlab
If you’ve ever been to New York, you would have seen the city’s famous yellow taxi cabs. Did you know that to qualify as a full-fledged taxi driver, one needs to know the streets and routes of New York like the back of their hand?
Similarly, to navigate and lead a sale effectively, you must do your homework and gain all the knowledge that is relevant to your prospect.
Chris Orlob’s company Gong collects and analyze data on millions of sales calls. According to their research there’s a linear relationship between the number of questions you ask earlier in sales cycle, and your likelihood of closing a deal.
Learn about your prospect’s situation and figure out what you know – and what you don’t. This will help you create a realistic picture of the best value you can bring to them.
Research means gathering, analyzing and interpreting various types of information about your potential client, such as:
drivers and characteristics
industry, market, sub-markets
challenges and risks
goals and objectives
resources and constraints
priority level of specific issues
details of this potential opportunity
alternatives they may be considering
Keep in mind that even a large company has smaller business units that operate independently.
For example, GE has 300,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $150 billion. Break it down a step and you’ll see that GE is actually made up of six companies. Each of these companies has various divisions, like marketing, IT and HR, which function independently.
So, it’s crucial for you to focus on who is “really” going to be your customer. You should:
identify the decision maker
conduct due diligence
figure out where the problems and gaps might be in their operation
create a tailored “getting in” strategy
Also try to answer a few key questions about your primary prospect, so you can anticipate their thoughts and responses:
What keeps them awake at night?
What are their three top day-to-day frustrations?
What trends are relevant to their business?
What do they secretly desire the most?
Who is their greatest competitor, and why?
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to conduct discovery or talk much with your prospect, then:
Do whatever research is possible before your next meeting, and
Make discovery the goal of your next meeting.
Points that you’re unable to clarify through independent research can be addressed in the meeting. Create a set of information-gathering questions, and prioritize them by importance.
In case there isn’t enough time, which questions will you ask and which will you leave out?
Once you have this essential information, you’ll be able to describe – confidently and accurately – why your prospect should meet with you.
One final suggestion: Just as you go deep into the prospect’s needs, you also need to fully understand your own product/ service.
The idea is to list every possible feature and benefit, then organize them by importance – from the prospect’s point of view.
Remember, nothing is perfect. Every product/ service has some drawbacks. Admit to yourself the limitations of your offer and – instead of looking at them as obstacles to a sale – view them as a way to make your message more believable and persuasive.