Monday, February 10, 2014

How to Prepare for Sales (B2B)

Last week I wrote a blog about sales and how it entails more than just cold calls and emails these days. Sales can be nerve-wracking. Some might think sales is the end-all-be-all of business. If a potential client says, “No,” does that mean there will be no more progress? A lot of preparation and research goes into a sales meeting; be it a cold call, email or a formal introduction. To break it down, we have 7 basic steps we follow to ensure a successful sales meeting.

1. Research the Account and/or Company

                The first place to look is their website. What kind of image do they present? Does it showcase bios of each staff member accompanied by a photo? Get a feel for the general atmosphere of the company to which you will be presenting.Next, research its current list of products or services. What do they hope to achieve in their industry? Ask yourself, do they fit your product/service customer profile and sales cycle model? Some potential customers do not.Also, check their social media accounts. Many companies use social media to generate awareness and promote new products or deals such as: happy hour specials posted on Twitter, photos of people at the YMCA on Facebook, and useful infographics on Pinterest. Hashtags are also important to research. What might they say about industry trends?Another thing to do is google them for press releases, blogs, PowerPoints or videos if they have any. Learning their needs, goals, industry trends, as well as, their typical sales cycle will help showcase why they NEED you.

2. Research Their Competition.

                You absolutely cannot go into a sales meeting without knowing the company’s competition. You need to know what they are up against. What does their competition have that they don’t? What do they have that their competition doesn’t?  Same rules apply as above. Check their websites, their social media accounts and press releases.

3. Research the Decision-Maker

                Just as important as researching the company and industry trends is the person with whom you will be speaking. Their LinkedIn can provide valuable information in regards to their area of expertise. Are they in marketing or is it the CEO? And while this has been repeated, it certainly is just as valuable- research their social media accounts. You never know if you have a friend or two in common or share the same interests. If you have a face-to-face meeting you will understand their demeanor better and know when it is appropriate to make small talk.

4. Write down Questions- As well As Answers

                Ask open-ended questions for your decision-maker to think about- who, what, when, where, why, etc. He or she might not have definite answers right away, but thinking about the possibilities will support your presentation- why it is they need your product or service so badly.
At the same time, come up with questions they might ask you. This will provide most useful so you don’t repeat yourself, or worse, get stumped. You will be better prepared if you can think of an answer to almost every question thrown at you.

5. Have an Objective

                Rarely does a salesman ever walk away from a meeting with a definite, “Yes”, and a signed contract. However, setting an objective will help you better prepare your speech and any questions you ask them. Maybe you want to come out of it with a follow up, send over a package or demo, or move from a cold call to a formal meeting. You might not know what their sales cycle is like, so setting smaller goals will prove to be more efficient and will give you and the decision-maker less pressure to come to a conclusion so fast.

6. Prepare all Materials

                This is simple. Don’t forget to bring your materials! PowerPoints, Products, Documents, Contracts, whatever it may be. Do Not Forget Them. Can you imagine? All that hard work and preparation thrown out the window because you forgot the most important part of your presentation.  “Sorry, I forgot to pack that all-in-one remote for you to test”. You have just embarrassed your company.

7. Clean Up Your Online Profile

                Why might this be on the list? The decision maker you are researching is most undoubtedly going to research you and your company. So, clean up your Facebook, delete those embarrassing tweets and update your LinkedIn. You represent your company and no one is going to do business with a frat star.

In Summary:

These are the quintessential steps in order to prepare for your big sales meeting. While preparing ahead of time you need to ask yourself, “Will our product or service help the decision maker, end users and team members?” and “How the company will benefit”? Additionally, understand if the customer fits your products or service customer profile and sales cycle model. Some customers do not. Research the company, decision-maker and competition. Have questions and answers prepared. Create small objectives or a timeline, remember not to forget to bring your materials, and clean up your online profile. Last but not least, go in with an open mind, a firm handshake and a smile.

Your Filelytics Team

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