In my last blog, I highlighted several tips for reps to effectively plan their accounts or territories over multiple years
. One of the tips was to “be specific” when the rep is setting his or her goals. Discussing your client’s goals, strategies and initiatives or their business process workflows is no different—getting to specificity with your clients really matters.
Nothing is more exhilarating than finally getting a meeting with that elusive executive. And, now that you have the meeting scheduled, it’s time to plan for that meeting, determine the specific outcomes of the meeting, and think through the open-ended questions you want to ask after doing your research.
You only have one shot, so want the client to see value in meeting with you and ensure they will take another meeting if requested. At the meeting, you get some good information, but did you get the specific details you needed to take the relationship forward? You probably heard things like:
We want to increase revenue.
We want to increase shareholder value.
We want to reduce exposure.
We want to minimize risk.
Many of you have accepted those answers, went back to your office and documented what you learned. The problem is, these goals are too generic; they’re not measurable and there is no timing associated. In other words, they give you little insight as to what your client is trying to accomplish and by when. An adage I have used before is that if it sounds like everyone else, then it most likely is not specific enough.
There are many reasons why you may not be able to get the right information. Here are a few:
You may not be at the right level of the organization or line of business.
They may have told you that they are the decision maker or have the power, but if they cannot provide you with specificity as to what they are trying to achieve and by when, then they may be at a lower level than they are telling you. The good news is that now you know.
The client didn’t want to share, or was unprepared to share, this information with you at that particular time.
They may give you generic answers, so you have to be prepared to ensure you establish the desired outcome of the meeting with the client and then ask the right questions to get the desired information.
You were unprepared.
The client did not believe you were prepared, or felt you didn’t have the capability or credibility to get the information.
In essence, the reasons you won’t get the specific information you need could be anything, but by asking about what they are trying to accomplish, you will learn things you may not have known or did not want to admit you knew.
Get the specific answers you need to plan your client strategy. Make your next meeting count by setting specific
outcomes and asking specific
questions. Then you’ll know for sure if you’re speaking with the right people and what the next steps should be to growing that client relationship.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results.
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6 Tips to Help Reps Plan beyond their Sales Quotas