Quite a bit of the training and coaching work I do is to help professionals improve their selling skills to close more business.
It's an area where many people feel unfomfortable – they don't want to be too pushy or “salesy”.
And there are indeed techniques and approaches which can improve your conversion rate by improving the way you interact with potential clients in sales meetings.
But often there's something else you can do. Something that can have an even bigger impact than any sales technique.
Let's do a little exercise.
Think about the very best ever sales meeting you’ve had. A meeting with a potential client that was incredibly pleasant, where you felt really engaged, and where the client emerged enthusiastic and signed up to work with you right away.
Visualise it now.
Now rather than thinking about what you did in that meeting, I want you to think about the characteristics of the client you were meeting with. What was it about them that made the meeting go so well?
Chances are, they had most of the following factors:
- They had a genuine problem or issue that you could help with
- The issue was important to them – it had a big impact
- You could add a tremendous amount of value to them
- They were able to easily afford your services
- They respected your expertise – they saw you as an authority in your field
- They trusted you – they weren’t second guessing what you were saying and your motives
- You got on well – your personalities and communication styles clicked
Let’s call these types of people your high potential prospects.
Here’s one of the big secrets to having more successful sales meetings.
Your success at winning clients is less to do with what you do in your sales meetings and much more to do with having the meeting with the right person.
If you can sit down with a high potential prospect: someone who has a genuine need for what it is you do, who feels the urgency of that need, who trusts in you and believes in your capabilities – then you are very likely to get a sale.
Conversely, if you meet with people who don’t have an urgent need, or who don’t perceive you to be an expert at what you do – then no matter what clever sales techniques you might use, you’re going to struggle to sell. It’s going to be painful.
Now, if you're a huge company – IBM, say – then you don't have much choice. You pretty much need to sell to everyone to keep up your market share and revenues.
But for most of us, that's not the case. Most of us only need a handful of good clients every year to do very well indeed.
We have a choice. We don't have to try to sell to everyone.
One of the characteristics of a consultant or coach with an inadequate marketing system in place is that they have very few high quality leads, and spend a lot of painful time trying to sell to the few they do have. Most of whom aren't anywhere near the high potential prospects we thought about earlier.
With a strong marketing system, the people you're meeting are a good fit to that high potential prospect profile. They're a pleasure to meet with and talk to, and they're much, much easier to sell to.
So next time you lose a sale, or are considering doing something to improve your selling skills, take a step back.
Is the issue really your selling skills?
Think about your most recent sales meetings. Have the people across the other side of the table looked like those high potential prospects you visualised earlier?
If they haven't, then chances are the issue is really your marketing system.
Chances are you're just not selling to the right people.