The next thing that a lot of senior people came up with concerned the objectives of meetings. Fundamentally, most business people do too little in terms of preparing the exact objectives of a meeting with a client. I formed a team with an excellent salesman and we sold sales training into large companies. He was the account manager and, of course, if we got the business, I did the training. The way we planned calls was very detailed. We actually sketched out precisely the one or two sentences or phrases we wanted the client to say at the end of the call. This gave us terrific focus for the call. It also gave us a lot of merriment. If the people actually used the words it was quite hard to keep a straight face.
A lot of managing directors and Chairmen talked about focus in meetings. Partly, perhaps, because their diaries tend to be a series of relatively short meetings and they want people to get to the point, and partly—this is back to my theory of the specialist salesperson being uncluttered by expertise—because the people at the top of an organization tend to have become general managers rather than experts.
The biggest single frustration with doing the job of the customer in a role-play is the feeling that someone has just popped in for a chat. Sales trainers spend a lot of their training time in role-play. They play the customer while the salespeople simply set about doing their job as salespeople. The biggest single frustration with doing the job of the customer in a role-play is the feeling that someone has just popped in for a chat. In the debrief at the end of the meeting the salesperson would say that they thought the call had gone pretty well; whilst the customer had no problem with the call, just an empty feeling that they had wasted their time. The cure for this is to have a single-minded focus on a sales objective and the use of good closing technique to find out if you have achieved the objective or at least whether you are on the way. So the next three great sales ideas are the essential techniques involved in doing this.
There are many ways of trying to remember this focus and to use closing questions, but I have found these three to be the best of them—ABC, STEP and SMART.