As Sales Leaders, the most effective weapon we have to achieve our sales goals is the team’s ability to conduct compelling interactions with their prospects and clients.
In the context of sales call execution, a compelling interaction achieves:
- Movement in the Client’s Mindset – A change in their perspective or priorities achieved through a collaborative discussion centered on thought leadership.
- Emotional Traction – The way the human brain turns input into behavior change is initially through an emotional reaction. Only then does our brain form a stream of logic to validate the emotion. Therefore, for a person to change their mindset, there first needs to be an emotional change. The most basic emotions in play are excite, disturb and assure.
- Tangible Outcomes – An effective sales discussion will result in the client or prospect committing funds, time, or other resources to advance the idea. Are they prepared to commit their people or funds to investigate value vision? Are they prepared to take personal political risk by introducing you to an influential person?
Not every sales discussion holds an opportunity for this sort of advancement. Our research shows that in a complex sales cycle of 6 months there are an average of 4 conversations per week. The vast majority “assure” by sharing information or collaborating on aspects for their unique client environment.
Yet in this 6-month period there are 5-8 interactions with the potential to significantly shift the momentum towards you and away from the competition. These are the occasions when you have the right powerful person(s) in the meeting. These “momentum meetings” are often missed because the salesperson didn’t know the full list of attendees, hasn’t planned well enough for it, or isn’t prepared to take the needed risk to win.
There are 4 steps to successfully leverage a momentum meeting:
- The Right Mindset
Let’s focus on Step 1: The Right Mindset.
Just as athletes need to go on the field with the winning mindset, the same emotional state is necessary when your salespeople head into a major interaction. Having coached thousands of the most seasoned sales veterans around the globe, not to mention those new to Sales, we have found the following are important coaching points to have in your arsenal:
Just Be Yourself – It is amazing to see warm, confident salespeople head into a major meeting and then observe their complete loss of personality, natural banter, and humor. To add to this, they use language which is seldom heard outside of a sales call. This leads to a lack of emotional engagement with the client.
In a recent sales call debrief the most powerful client attendee said, “I have no idea what you have been talking about for the past 45 minutes!” Ouch! That is not just missing the bullseye but missing the target completely. The upside is that at least the salesperson has acknowledged it and wants to improve.
Remind salespeople that they are just talking to people, who are no different than you or your sales team. We all have our own personal concerns, sensitivities, and weaknesses—no matter what the job title! Relax. They want to know what your team has to say or they wouldn’t be in the meeting.
Coach them to treat every person as an equal individual. While certain personality types or organizations will want to be shown clear deference, they must do it purposefully and initially—not continually. At the end of the day, each sales contact is another person doing their best to achieve something—just like your salesperson.
Provide them ideas on how to let their personality shine. Is it their sense of humor, outside interests, or industry passion? Encourage them to be authentic and transparent. Be comfortable in their skin, as that uniqueness can make them memorable.
It’s About the Story – Selling is about good storytelling, which requires flow, drama, excitement, and visualization. In a later article we will cover PowerPoints and media for Step 2: Preparation, but every salesperson must take the responsibility to tell an engaging story that captures the audience’s attention. Help them get into storytelling mode with your coaching.
Engagement is more than words. Research has shown 80% of impact is based on what people see and feel. If you have a sales team presenting, make sure everyone gets behind the story. Facial and body cues can be easily read by others. Nothing is more disconcerting than to see a fragmented or confused presentation team!
For major meetings, conduct an internal dry run where they take on the roles of those that will be attending—a good test for potential reactions. Ask them what would engage their curiosity, interest, and feelings more. Whatever sales tools are available should be used to create that winning story!
Triggering the Emotions – The focus of a sales call is to move the belief structure of the prospect or client. That requires an emotional feeling to engage their logical reasoning.
The 3 emotions easiest to trigger are:
- Excitement - something good could happen as a result of this,
- Disturbance - the consequences of not doing this could result in something very bad happening, and
- Assurance - feeling that together they could accomplish the vision.
Over 80% of C-level decisions are made out of fear. Mitigating risk is a real part of their day-to-day role. Also, these emotions can be very personal and are often impacted by their personal agendas—not just their business priorities.
Take the Risk – A game of football is not won by continuing to pass the ball around on the half-way line. At some point, someone has to have the courage to get the ball closer to the goal, risking that it could fall into the competitor’s hands. It still needs to be done to win!
Your salespeople will learn more by doing something that they have not done before. With each new attempt we learn more about ourselves, the competitors, and, how to create a better shot on goal. If they are not taking enough shots on goal, they will not get better.
Encourage them to take risks; have a strong point of view, be bold and adventurous. Ask them how that sales approach will be different from their competitors? What would be unusual but effective?
I urge you to constantly reinforce these as a practical mantra of sales calls in your organization. Keep the Right Mindset – 1) Be Yourself 2) Create a Compelling Story 3) Trigger Emotions and 4) Take the Risk. Drum it into your salespeople that sales discussions are personal! Share observations of it done well in your team meetings. If you can get them into the right mindset, they will better enjoy what they do, while also becoming more successful.
PS. The next article will cover the preparation required for a compelling sales encounter.
Personal Challenge: Identify one “Momentum Meeting” that is pending or create the opportunity for such an encounter. Then enter in your calendar a fixed amount of time to prepare for the engagement. Bring a small team together and consider how to leverage the emotions to create new momentum for your proposition.