If you’ve ever been to sales training, you’ve probably been educated on how to: find leads, cold call, build and track pipeline, ask the right questions, create ROI’s and TCO’s, cross-sell, calculate margin, follow the process, and close deals.
You’ve also probably learned a lot about the importance of soft skills and professionalism when interacting with clients ( 90% of your job).
I don’t care what you’re selling, it’s more than likely you’re also not doing it alone; you have team members (i.e. engineers, project managers, sales overlays, finance reps, etc.) who support you and join you on client meetings. These people don’t report to you. They have their own boss and their own processes that are required for their role. They are great at what they do and are probably smarter than you. These people are crucial to your business.
But, when it comes to interacting with the client, you are the expert. You know how to read the room, speak in a manner that will appeal to the customer, and ask the right questions. Why? because you’ve been trained to and because it’s your job. It’s also your duty to prep your team prior to any client meeting on goals, expectations, prior conversations, shared content, and soft skills.
Dress Professionally – This one should be obvious, but you’d be surprised. No matter what the dress code is at the office, when meeting with a client you should always dress professionally. For most meetings, this means business casual. If more than business casual is required ( suit jacket), the rep should let you know beforehand. This also includes trimming up any facial hair and using a hair brush.
Read the Room – If everyone has a notepad and pen out, don’t bust out your laptop and start typing notes. This usually applies for higher level meetings not technical discussions or working meetings. The typing is distracting and it will seem like you are not engaged. A notepad is enough to jot down what you need while still looking up at the speaker.
Avoid Using Internal Jargon or Acronyms – The client doesn’t care what you call your cost worksheet or what CRM system you use. You are just going to confuse them and make things awkward. They don’t care about your back office process and don’t want to hear your questions to each other. Save that for an internal de-brief. The client wants to know how you plan to solve their problem, how much it’s going to cost, and when you can make it happen. Keep these things in mind, always.
Speak Their Language – If the customer reference their downtown location as “Station1” then make sure you are using this term when referencing that specific office. This will not only keep you and the client from confusing each other but will also show them that you are in tune with their business.
Know When to Speak – The sales rep always leads the meeting. They will cue you in when it’s your time. You are there for a reason, they brought you along because they need you, but let them run the show. It’s very important not to overstep. When it’s your time to shine, avoid over explaining and unnecessary conversation that could derail the meeting. Speak clearly and straight to the point. Stay on track.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes – Ask yourself, ” Is what I’m saying important to the customer?” If you spend 10 minutes talking about an amazing product that will help optimize bandwidth to all of your client’s location and their response is ” we only have one location”, you’ve just wasted 10 minutes of quality meeting time. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself if you would be interested in what you are saying.
Have a Can – Do Attitude – This is the most critical of them all.
Never say no first. Don’t tell a client you can’t do something before at least entertaining a discussion. Your company may have a specialized team in the USA you aren’t aware of that specially addresses the customer’s needs. If it is a clear ” that is not a service we offer”, let the rep be the one to address that.
Don’t make a client feel stupid for an idea they have by telling them it’s not possible. Again, be open minded and offer positive advice as well as helpful information. Always approach a situation as a problem solver.
Leave your personal problems at the door. The client doesn’t care if your car didn’t start that morning or if you’ve had a stressful day. They definitely don’t want to hear you complain about another team member or how you had to work late last night.
Show up to the meeting with a can do attitude and always understand the objective.