Conducting the Perfect Sales Meeting

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

If most of us are honest, in disaster restoration, we spend very little time prepping for sales meetings. We often give them very little thought. Most of our effort and intentionality goes into getting the meeting, and then we show up and wing it. 

When I describe it out loud, all of us recognize the foolishness of it, yet the behavior is real, and very common across sales teams in our industry. 

I’m convinced this casual approach to sales meetings is a carryover from our “Candy and Smiles” route sales approach that many of us grew up on in the industry. We focused on getting facetime with referral partners, and then we would talk at them and either teach them CE while loading them up with SWAG, or we’d hand out sales slicks and talk about how great our company is.

Of course, there are exceptions to this everywhere, and you or your team might be one of them. But teaching old dogs new tricks can take a while, and many of us need to double down on making the transition into more professional selling.

So if a sales meeting isn’t about show and tell, then what is it for, and how do we do them well? 

In the coming paragraphs, I’m going to share Floodlight’s model for effective sales meetings, and give a few tips along the way. One thing that will come up along the way is how do we do a better job as sales reps utilizing our operations partners in our sales process? We’ll definitely dig into that. 

First things first though, let’s deal with an elephant in the room. 

Operational decision-makers, the kind you’re selling to in commercials sales, don’t like to meet with salespeople. Almost universally. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, and I’ve met a few. Some exceptionally good ops leaders prioritize time to connect with and build relationships with vendors. They know the value of regularly exploring new vendor relationships. But they’re the exception to the rule. It’s helpful to understand this principle when doing commercial sales. 

So with that out of the way, how do we engage operational decision-makers in a focused sales meeting? 

Well it starts with my prospect development and knowing where they’re at in the sales pipeline. Did I meet this person at a networking event, and managed to go straight from small talk to scheduling a meeting with them? Or have I had a series of interactions with them already, and already have a foundation of rapport and intel established? 

The key criteria for assessing where we’re at with a prospect is, what’s their pain? Pain is a good catch-all term for negative or stressful past experiences, current frustrations, and unmet preferences by an existing vendor.

Operational leaders almost never change service vendors until the pain of staying with their existing vendor exceeds the [perceived] cost to switch. 

We don’t tend to take this into consideration as sales people. Switching a vendor requires, at a minimum, that the decision-maker send an email out to all their staff that might interact with restoration. But really, smart leaders realize that they’re going to need to discuss it at upcoming meetings, that they will need to drive compliance around using this new vendor, and ultimately they’ll also have to endure some mishaps along the way, any time they start a new vendor relationship. 

So what does that have to do with the perfect sales meeting? Don’t take an operational decision-makers time, unless you’ve got pain to discuss with them. The one exception to this, of course, is if they requested the meeting. (Obviously in this case, they have something motivating them, likely some pain.) 

So now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, let’s talk about our prep.

The first step is identifying, what is my objective with the sales meeting? Here’s a few possibilities: 

  • Am I trying to uncover more pain, or discuss our solution(s) to pain that I’ve already discovered in prior conversations? 
  • Am I trying to build an operational connection by introducing one of my operations partners (MIT manager, GM, Project Manager, etc)  to the operational decision-maker (so they can “talk shop”)? 
  • Am I trying to “catch up” another decision-maker or influencer on a conversation I’ve already started with another decision-maker at the prospect account? 
  • Am I trying to pitch an ERP or service agreement? 

The next step of my prep, if I’m bringing along one of my ops partners, is to request their time by sending them an executive brief. Don’t get too caught up in the fancy language. An executive brief might be a single paragraph. It simply lets your ops partner know- where/when, who’s the prospect, what’s their pain, and what role do I want them to play in the meeting.

Now I need to create my agenda. Never show up to a sales meeting without an agenda that you will lead with. Never. It’s your job to lead the meeting, not your prospect’s. 

A quick side note that I’ve found to be critically important- Many times my operational decision-maker prospect will invite another colleague or downline employee to join the meeting with us. Sometimes they’ll tell me in advance, and other times it would be a surprise. It’s really important that we integrate them into the conversation. More than once, I failed to do this, only to find out that the guest, was actually the final decision-maker and I had failed to build a connection with them during the meeting. 

So when a guest is present, an important part of your agenda, is to recap prior discussions you’ve had with your original prospect, and have them confirm your summary.  “Yep, that pretty much sums it up.”

Then, here’s how I introduce the agenda- “I put together a simple agenda for our time, here’s what I’d planned to cover: 

  • I had a few more questions about the last damage event you mentioned to me during our last meeting
  • I’d like to learn a little bit more about your portfolio and the makeup of your team
  • I wanted to give some time to John (Ops partner, Mitigation Manager, etc) to let him speak to how our team handles after hours emergencies with our priority clients. I wanted him to be able to specifically speak to the communication piece, because I know that’s been an issue for you guys in the past. 
  • Lastly, I wanted to leave a little time if you have any more questions of us and to figure out when we should meet or follow up next. 

After I share the agenda with them, I ask, “Does that work for you? Is there anything else you were hoping to address during our meeting?” 

It’s not a powerpoint presentation, it’s not show and tell, but I am definitely leading the conversation. 

I think a lot of times we assume our prospects have a specific or formal way they like to deal with vendors. That they know what kinds of questions to ask, what requirements they have for a vendor, what problems they need to solve. The reality is, most operational decision-makers, are operational leaders, not purchasing managers. And don’t forget, Ops leaders don’t want to meet with salespeople to begin with (grins). 

Here’s a more simple way you can think about your sales meetings- you have one goal. You’re trying to figure out the truth. That’s it. You’re not trying to persuade the prospect to switch to your company. You’re not trying to convince them why you’re better than the next resto company. And you’re not schmoozing it up to make them a friend. 

Instead, you’re trying to learn and understand their business, their role, their past experience with damage events, and their experience with vendors (including restoration), both good and bad. You’re hunting for pain. And until you find pain, you’re almost never going to get their business. 

One pro tip regarding bringing an Ops partner to your sales meetings- don’t do it if you haven’t found any pain. There’s no need to bring a MIT or Resto Ops person with you if you still don’t have an idea of the prospect’s pain, unmet preferences, past experiences with damage events, etc. Wait til you know their pain, then bring your Ops partner in to speak directly to that pain. 

In summary, the purpose of a scheduled, sit-down sales meeting with a prospect is to gain a better understanding of their pain and past experience, so we can directly speak about the concrete and specific solutions or processes we have in our restoration company that will solve that pain or prevent negative experience in the future. 

Nothing else about our business matters during that meeting, unless the prospect specifically asks. They don’t need to know how big our fleet is, what our headcount is, what kind of fancy mobile app we have for tracking their job, how long we’ve been in business, or how our EMS manager is a Triple Master Restorer.

Unless of course one of those features actually solves for their pain.

Be disciplined with your sales meetings. Focus on your prospect, their business, and their pain, and I promise you- you’ll see your sales results grow. 

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

Latest Posts
Most Popular

Hey there! We're glad you're here!

This content is only available for subscribers. Please enter your email below to verify your subscription.

Don't worry! If you are not a subscriber, simply enter your email below and fill out the information on the next page to subscribe for FREE!

Back to homepage