This feeling when we come back from a sales meeting with a customer and instinctively know Ít’s going to be a deal’ – Magic, but hard.
For many of us, that feeling is like, ‘It went OK, I guess – they haven’t said No.’
From my own experience, this has nothing to do with seniority. For example, here’s an anecdote a highly successful B2B SaaS CEO recently shared with me:
I’ll share a story, one of my greatest growth moments. And I was in New York, and one day, I was with a large financial institution, a significant opportunity in our pipeline. I was there with our lead salesperson, a guy who has been selling large-scale enterprise systems for many years.
He was able to get the high-level meeting that we wanted with the customer that we’d been chasing for a long time. So we start having a general conversation about a product. And I’m elbowing the guy to get the demo out. And he’s like, ‘but he’s asking some more questions.’
At some point, I lose my patience. So I take my laptop out. And I’m like, let me show you the demo. We have this great version that has all these features and whatnot.
So we go out of the meeting, and I felt really good. I’m the CEO. I’m helping my team. I’m out in the field with great excitement, and we had a great meeting with the customer.
And the guy goes flat-faced and said: ‘you ruined the meeting.’
And I said, ‘What are you talking about? I just gave them a great demo, and they gave good feedback.’
And he repeated: ‘No, you ruined the meeting. You kept talking, and you didn’t listen. I asked the customer, ‘What are your problems, why are we here, and what business issues can we solve for you?’ And instead, you pulled up your laptop and gave a ‘feature function,’ just like the seven competitors before us.’
You ruined the meeting because we had one chance with the decision-makers to listen to them.
Here’s the thing
Just because you’re the CEO and you’re proud of your business, and the product you’ve developed with your team doesn’t mean the customer cares.
They only do when they have trust that you can solve their most persistent, expensive problem. To achieve that is about three things
- Shut up – listen
- Don’t answer – ask more profound questions
- Forget the demo
Resist the urge to solve the problem in the meeting.
Instead, show empathy for the customer. Make it about them.
Question for you to reflect upon
What % of sales meetings do you end in pole position in the customer’s mind? What’s stopping you from making that 100%?
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