Posted 31st May 2012.
In this month’s Momentum Club Marketing Masterclass webinar we worked on strategies for effective face to face sales meetings.
One strategy we covered was on how to use a “Point of View” meeting to win clients.
A Point of View meeting is a meeting with a potential client where the primary purpose isn’t for you to talk about your services, or to discuss a client’s problems – it’s for you to share valuable information with them.
It might be the results of a benchmarking study you’ve done. Or some case studies. Or the summary of a report you’ve written.
Essentially it’s you sharing your point of view on a useful topic for your potential client.
Point of View meetings are important for two reasons.
Firstly because they’re a great way of building your credibility with potential clients.
Secondly because it’s an awful lot easier to get a client to agree to have a meeting with you where you share useful information with them than it is to have a meeting where you explain your services to them or “find out what they need”.
So they’re ideally placed to help you sell.
The trouble is, they’re handled incredibly badly most times.
The first mistake people make is to just go in, share the information and leave without any exploration with the client that might lead to working with them.
It’s a huge opportunity missed.
But worse is the second mistake: “sugging”. Selling under the guise of sharing information. Promising you’ll share useful information but actually just treating the session like a sales meeting.
Not only do you get no sale, you lose your relationship.
So how should you handle Point of View meetings?
The secret’s in the structure. And in what I call “the flip”.
You need to structure the meeting so that rather than you just talking for an hour, you interact with them.
And you do this by asking about their priorities.
Do a summary of your point of view (or research or benchmarking or case studies) first.
Then ask them “so I can go into more details on the areas that will be the most valuable for you – out of all those topics, which are the most relevant for you based on where you are now? Which ones would be your priorities?”.
When they tell you, you need to “flip” the discussion. You need to move from you talking to them talking.
Ask them to expand – why are those the priorities? What exactly is happening right now in those areas that they want to change? What’s the impact?
Then expand on your Point of View in those areas. Give them the meat.
What’s happened now is that instead of you just rabbiting on for the duration of the meeting about what you think is important, you’ve found out from them what’s important to them.
And you’ve turned the meeting from “show and tell” into an interactive, advisory discussion. You’re giving them valuable information on areas that are priorities for them.
And you now know what those priorities are, what the issues are in those areas, what their impact is, etc.
Pretty much all the information you need to build an effective case for them hiring you.
But you’ve done it while building your credibility and giving value to the client.
Next, you close by summarising the main points.
“We discussed the importance of X, Y and Z (the main points in your point of view)…and the big priorities for you were A, B and C”.
(In real life, of course, your summary would be rather more detailed).
And then you need to ask for the follow up. This is critical.
“Would it be useful for you for me to come back and talk in a bit more detail about A, B and C…share some thoughts on some of the things you could do to address them?”
Here you’re basically asking permission to come back and have a traditional sales meeting where you discuss their specific problems and propose how you could work with them.
Why a separate meeting? Why not have that discussion at the end of the Point of View meeting?
Well partly because you probably don’t have the time to fully discuss the issues.
But mainly because your potential client will be in the wrong psychological state.
They’ve come to the meeting to hear and discuss your point of view (or case studies or whatever).
Even though they’ll be happy to answer questions to help with that discussion – they didn’t come in “buying mode”. They didn’t come expecting to end up with you proposing something to them.
And I’ve found that’s a big switch. For many clients, it just doesn’t feel comfortable to find themselves in a sales meeting when they weren’t expecting it. So the chances of them buying are slim.
Sure, if things go brilliantly and the client starts asking you questions that naturally lead on to talking about how you might help them, then go with the flow.
But more often than not, you’ll get better results by coming back another day for an explicit sales meeting.
But in that follow up meeting, you’ll be talking to someone you’ve already established your credibility with, and who you already know really needs what you’ll be discussing.
So your chances of ending up with a new client are pretty darn good.
By the way, if you join Momentum Club, not only do you get to participate in upcoming Marketing Masterclass webinars and get your specific questions answered in depth – you’ll also get access to all the webinar archives, including this recent one on effective sales meetings.