We’ve talked about January being a great time to schedule, and have, meetings with your customers. It’s a great way to kickstart your sales year and also say “Thanks” to your existing customers for their business. It’s a good time to meet new prospects and better understand their business needs and goals.
When you working on setting up these meetings, how do you think they’ll respond to your meeting request?
- “I’m glad Julie called because I’m looking forward to getting some new data that her company publishes. She really knows my business and I could use suggestions as to how I’ll achieve my Q1 goals.”
- “Joe keeps calling me to set up a meeting…the last meeting was a complete waste of time. All he wanted to do is sell me something and, to make things worse, he really didn’t do his homework as to what my needs are now and in the next 90 days.”
It’s pretty obvious that Julie is going to get the customer meetings and, with her hard work, will sell more products and provide a better partnership with her customers. But what does she do that gets her the meetings?
I think of the term, the “Three I’s” when I look to schedule meetings.
Insights + Information = Investment
It’s crucial for salespeople to give their customers good reasons to accept a meeting request. ‘Catching up’ is not a good reason. ‘My boss is in town’ is not a good reason.
What your customers are looking for are actionable insights that they can use to perform their jobs better. Remember, though, the key word is actionable. Rattling off data points and survey results without relating them back to your customers’ needs is a waste of both their time and yours. The best salespeople look at insights that their company provides for them (or that they gather themselves) and use those insights to solve a customer problem. If your customer is having challenges selling a particular product, maybe you show them how a particular research finding can help them change the way they’re selling their product.
Whatever data or research you have, turn it into an action that your customer can take to solve a problem.
Your customers aren’t just human ATM’s whose sole purpose is to spend money with you. The best salespeople know that each customer is an individual with unique goals and needs within their jobs but also with their own careers.
Make sure you provide relevant industry information to your customers while in a meeting. This information could include your educated opinions on what trends that you are seeing in their industry. Obviously, don’t communicate anything confidential or proprietary. It is, however, totally appropriate to comment on industry news or trends that have been published or publicly discussed. In fact, your customers WANT to know your opinions since you, as the salesperson, are seeing things from a different perspective than your customer. They want to understand trends and news from a third-party viewpoint. The great salespeople are viewed as valuable resources whose meeting requests are immediately accepted.
Investment isn’t just a revenue source resulting from your customer’s purchase of your product. Certainly, as a salesperson, you have revenue goals you need to achieve…and exceed.
I think of ‘Investment’ as also relating to time and effort. Your preparation for a customer is an investment of your time. You’re going to have to understand your customer’s goals and see how those goals align with your product offerings. The best salespeople spend a minimum of 2-3 hours preparing for a 60-minute customer meeting. I also think of investment as the time and effort involved in getting to know the customer’s own career aspirations in their company or industry. In the digital advertising world, many customers hear about job opportunities from their salespeople. Hiring managers from one company will ask the salesperson if they know of any good candidates for a position. The salesperson is a key part of the process because they are meeting with a number of different customers that are potential hires for the hiring manager.
Investing your time and effort in getting to know your customer beyond just a ‘vendor’ relationship will definitely pay off for you. You will be helping to facilitate customer career moves and you reinforce your value to your overall customer list. Your job is definitely not that of a recruiter but a resource.
Remember, think about the “Three I’s” when you are scheduling customer meetings. Being a valuable resource to your customers will get you many more meetings than the average salesperson.