You worked hard for this appointment.
You sized up the prospect, researched the company, and determined how you could help their business. It took weeks to hunt down the Decision Maker. You made it past the Gatekeeper. You set up the meeting, and much to your relief they didn’t cancel at the last minute. This is a big opportunity that would help you go from red to black… or hit your monthly quota.
Five seconds into your meeting Bob Decision-Maker drops the bomb on you:
“Okay, whatcha got?”
If you’re like most people, you freeze.
It wasn’t supposed to go like this. You were hoping to get to know them more before jumping into your presentation, maybe even ask a few personal questions. This bonding exercise is the first step of the sales process. Under better circumstances you’d establish a connection with them, build trust, learn about their business, and guide them to the next steps in the process. [nbsp_tc]
Experienced salespeople have had dozens, maybe hundreds of scenarios just like this. Even though you’ve set aside enough time for a complete appointment, your prospect immediately ambushes you in an attempt to get information.
Unless you’re careful you’ll fall into the conventional Buyer-Seller model:
Buyer rushes the process.
Seller goes into “Sales Mode” and starts guessing at what the Buyer wants to hear.
Buyer asks all the questions.
Seller spits up Features and Benefits in the hopes of wowing the Buyer.
Buyer builds up hope.
Seller likes what they hear and doesn’t attempt to rock the boat with any deeper questions.
Buyer ends the appointment.
Seller never hears from them again. Misses quota.
Don’t take the bait. Instead, pivot to an agenda.
“Bob, we set this appointment for 30 minutes. Does that still work for you?”
Let Bob answer. Yes, no, it’s all the same. If he’s really pressed for time you can decide if you should reschedule your appointment. But if you engage Bob in a compelling, mature business conversation, he’ll make time for you. He may even cancel his next appointment with that other salesperson you passed in the lobby.
“I’d like to use our time together today to ask you some questions, hear more about your company, and discover why you’ve invited me into your office. I’d also be happy to answer any questions I can about my company’s services and see if we’re a good fit for you. If at the end of this appointment it makes sense for us to continue talking we can schedule next steps. If not, it’d be great to know that, too. Does that work for you?”
Let Bob answer and start your line of questioning.
Just like that you’ve regained control of the call.
This is not a power struggle. This is not manipulation. This is not jiu-jitsu.
You are a professional. You have an agenda, and you’ve asked for a commitment. Bob now knows your time is valuable. He also knows you have a process, and from process comes order.
Let’s unpack this idea a little.
Bob may not realize he’s put you on the defensive. He may genuinely be in a hurry, or he may not really be all that invested in the outcome of your meeting. There are endless reasons why Bob skipped the usual chitchat and rushed into a conversation. But he invited you into his office. It’s up to you to find out why.
By creating this initial agreement and setting an agenda you can start the process of assessing Bob’s needs. The agenda lets Bob know there will be a two-way discovery that helps both of you determine whether you’re qualified to move forward. If so, there will be more work to do. If not, each of you can respectfully pull the plug and move on. As a bonus, you’ll establish the trust and personal relationship you’d hoped to achieve up front.
If only all of Life’s relationships were that honest.
What if Bob continues to throw you off?
“I was hoping to learn about your rates and services. I don’t have much time today.”
This is your first red flag about Bob, but it’s not a cause for concern. Go back to your agenda.
“Great! Let’s use our time today to determine exactly what you need…” and go right into your questioning. Once again the outcome is the same:
You stand your ground and get right down to business.