Many years ago, I’d been having a sales dialog with a prospect. Based out of town he suggested I come and meet the boss at a tradeshow they were exhibiting at.
He assured me he’d spoken with the boss and we set up a meeting for 11am on the appointed day.
I turned up, only to a) find my contact nowhere in sight and b) the boss constantly moving from conversation to conversation with other people.
After hanging around for over 30 minutes, I finally got to speak with him for 30 seconds. Not only did he not know who I was, but bluntly told me he was there to meet his prospects, not to be pitched to himself!
While I drove home fuming, I realised it was entirely my own fault.
I had broken what I now consider the platinum rule of selling. I’ll get to what it is but first…
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve detailed the golden rule that governs every sales meeting. That you must have a plan and structure if you are to be successful.
You can read Part 1 – Why Winging It Doesn’t Cut It and Part 2 Masters Don’t Wing It by clicking the links.
However, if you break the platinum rule, no amount of structure or process will get you anywhere.
So where did I go wrong with this chap?
I had no “posture” and no authority. I was the supplicant trying to get an audience with the king, who didn’t know me and was certainly not interested in what I had to offer.
In short he ignored me, effectively treating me with contempt.
And why did I put myself in this position? Business was down that month and we needed to make a sale.
So what’s the platinum rule?
No matter how desperately you may want/need the business you must have “posture”. You must be positive, the authority figure in control and NEVER, EVER act desperate or needy.
The slightest whiff of desperation, or appearing to beg for the business and I guarantee you’re toast. Just like a dog smells fear, your prospects subconsciously recognise desperation.
So how do you gain posture, gain and maintain control in a sales situation?
Start by setting the meeting frame using these rules.
Rule one: Establish your posture, authority and boundaries.
If you’re going to be successful – rule number one is you must be taken seriously by your prospects and clients.
Get their attention. Tell them up front that you understand the problem they’re experiencing, and have a viable solution.
This is exactly what I recently told a recruitment client to say in an upcoming presentation targeted to HR Directors.
“Your challenge is finding the right people at the right time and at the right price. Personnel who meet the technical requirements AND are a good cultural fit for your organisation, who become productive, long term employees. We can help you achieve this.”
Rule two: Control the location.
Never meet where there could be distractions. You cannot sell in a coffee shop – especially one they frequent. Imagine being interrupted by people coming up and saying hello to them while you wait sheepishly.
Wherever possible, meet on your turf. Have them come to you. I should never have agreed to meet at a tradeshow where there were distractions and different agendas at play.
Rule three: Have a sales process and stick to it. We’ve outlined a process you can use above. It’ll keep you on track.
Rule four: Timing. Clarify how much time your prospect has. Set up the timeframes in advance so there are no surprises or you’ll suddenly find yourself getting cut short mid-way through your presentation.
Rule five: Realise working with a client is a partnership. Both parties have their roles and responsibilities if the project is going to be successful.
Decide whether you want to work with them. Will you be a good fit? Can you have an open, transparent relationship? If you feel a niggling sense of unease – delve deeper, suss it out and if necessary walk away. Trust me on this one…
Rule six: Do it with humour, courtesy and a light heart.
None of this is about being arrogant and lording it over anyone. Posture is having self-assurance of your own value and a sense of quiet inner authority and peace. It comes across without being threatening.
Are you confident in your sales presentations? Do you have a make or break presentation coming up with a large potential client and stressing out about the best way to get your message across so they buy?
Get us to create the presentation outline for you. We’ll follow our proven presentation and sales formula, give you the complete structure and the words you need to say and when.
Just as we did for our recruitment client who said, “This was extremely valuable and useful. Money well spent.”
Call us on (02) 9499-7958 to start getting more business now.