Be Prepared – Do The Homework

The most important thing to remember about selling face to face with Businesses of any size is the importance of being prepared. Being prepared prior to arriving will give you more confidence in the meeting, will mean the customer or prospective customer will see you as being knowledgeable about not only your business, but more importantly, his or her business.
I am sure you have heard be prepared or prepare to fail, and similar quotations, but what exactly do you need to do to prepare?

If I stand in front of the mirror telling myself, “I’m the man” and “I got this”, that might make me feel good until I arrive and realise that I have no clue of what the customer is likely to need, what they do and who the customers are? As a result, I am not going to be able to appear professional, understand the customer and furthermore build rapport and close a sale.

Plan For The Meeting

So, before you visit you prospect, find out as much as you can.

Who you are seeing and their position?

What does the Business sell, make or market?

what is there share of the Market ?

Do they have a specialist Niche within the market they are involved?

Who are the customers they sell too?

Where do they find the customers ?

What is the Supply Chain ?

Who are the key people in the Business, is your contact the decision maker?

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How You Can Help Them ?

Prior to the meeting it is important that you take yourself through how you would like the meeting to go.
Have a meeting plan, a road map of where you are going to take the meeting, each step at a times. It is very important that you have control of the meeting. To have control and take the meeting where you want you must prepare in advance.

Prepare in advance how you are going to open the meeting, what questions you are going to ask and what outcome you are looking for, is it to find out more so you can send a detailed offer /quotation? Is your desired outcome to get a commitment today from the customer, or get an agreement to working together in the future – be clear about what you would like to achieve today.

Introductions and Handshakes

When you arrive in the office, a big GENUINE SMILE, go straight in and CONFIDENTLY introduce yourself and your company

How you are going to build rapport, have you any common interests, for example-

They have a picture of his wife and and family on his desk,

They Support a local football team,

They play golf or tennis.
They studied ??????? at ????

Remember, like likes like, if you have something in common use it to help build rapport prior to getting down to the nuts and bolts of the meeting, but do not let it sidetrack you from the objective.

Set The Agenda

Explain The reason for having the meeting is to see if your company can add some value but, in order to do that you would like to ask a few questions to understand the business a little better, ask if that’s ok, also if it’s okay to take a few notes.
Hopefully, when understand his/ her. Business and what they are liking for I’m a little better, you will know if your company will be in a position to help them and add some value.

Qualification of The Businesses Needs

Having done research prior to arriving you should have a list of relevant questions about how they operate, so what you need to know is which areas are causing and issue, what these issues are, and what they are doing now to address them.

Ask OPEN ENDED QUESTIONS, these are questions that begin with What, How, Why, Where and When ? The objective is to get the customer doing most of the talking, with you guiding him through by using questions.

Listen Actively to the answers to the question and confirm your understanding is correct.

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Dig, Dig, Dig

If the customer has an issue with a particular issue, ask delving questions, example : “ my biggest issue is getting good people” ask “what do you do to recruit talented people at the moment?”, follow on “How has that Worked out?”, “Do you have a recruitment plan, or is it a case of when someone leaves?” And then “How would it benefit You business/ you, if we planned recruitment based on your staff turn in advance, so you always have a person of quality ready to fit in, rather than a rushed recruit to fill a whole?”

Demonstrations & Explanation

Once you have an an understanding of the customers needs and how you can help, now is the time to explain/ present how you can help them.

It is best to have something visual that you can take the customer though and importantly get them involved with.
If you are selling a tangible product it is best to bring the product and get the customer involved, by touching and feeling.
Give an example by telling a story, of when you have helped a similar issue and the outcome, be specific with figures.

Calculate how much it could help improve the bottom line or improve efficiency to that customer.

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Present your offer clearly, explain what exactly they will gain, be confident in your product and ensure your price allows for sufficient margin. Do not undervalue yourself by quoting low, but be aware of the reasonable price for the product or service.

You can always come down, but it will be very difficult to increase the price once agreed.

Handling Objections

Many times a customer will give you a question or objection, this is not always a deal breaker, most of the time it is something that the customer is unsure about or required clarification of, an example – “ I spoke with another company and they Are able to supply cheaper”. Take time to think, then reply using the following process-

Feel “I understand feel I have had a few clients that mentioned the Price is very slightly more expensive than some suppliers, and obviously the Price is an important factor”.

Felt – “They felt that in balance, given the extra features/support/level of service they would be better off with us.

Found- what they actually found is that the increased level of service obtained with us more than made up for it in the long term.”

Get Agreement and Close The Sale

Closing the sale is an huge subject all on its own with many closes favoured by certain professional sales people, these include the half Nelson, Time Pressure, Alternative Close and lots of others.

I would by all means encourage you to read up on closing techniques, however, in my experience, the bet is just ask if the customer if they are happy to go ahead, then wait for the response and allow the customer time to reply before speaking again -in other words Shut Up until they have answered.

Note, Read up on selling, start with Dale Carnegie excellent book – How to Win Friends and Influence People.

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