This is not yet-another-remote-working-tips piece. This is about when there is potential money on the table and not leaving it there.
Go in with no real plan or structure and the likely result will be something akin to that Thursday evening zoom call with your mates or <<shudders>> a toe curling hell hole of conference call bingo. While the former is a giggle (and questionable backgrounds are de-rigueur), the latter, well, no-one wants that.
At the risk of showing my age and in the spirit of pre-millennium kids TV shows, here’s one I made earlier.
Before the call
- Get everyone on-board. I know that sounds obvious, but the first thing is to make sure everyone turns up. Find out from your contact who else is going to be on the call and get the session into everyone’s calendar – don’t rely on your contact to do this, always, always make it easy for them
- Check everyone has accepted the invitation. Work with your contact to corral the troops
- Know who is going to be on the call. Their names, their role, a key fact about each of their background or previous experience
- Ask your contact: What are the key points you would like to see covered in the session? Work this into your agenda
- Check your Zoom settings and avoid any bombing
On the day
- Don’t be late. No excuses. This is your gig. Login to your meeting room and be ready to go 10 minutes ahead of time. In the words of my former colleague, the one and only Alex Tucker – don’t be shit
- Have a game plan of where you want to get to in the session
- Have a clear goal of what you’re looking to happen next in the sales process
- Don’t feel you have to answer complex questions in real time – better to acknowledge and communicate the full response later
- Have an agenda sketched out in line of sight to navigate the call
To script, or not to script
I’m not a believer in scripts. For a complex B2B sale, there needs to be a conversation and that conversation needs to flow. However, that flow can and should be directed in order to be effective.
A working agenda could be along the lines of:
“Thank you all for joining today. Now, there are some of us who know each other well but for some others, this is the first time we’ve met. Let’s start with some introductions and go round and ask who you are, what you do and what you are looking to get out of this session”
Teeing things up this way enables you to do a few things:
- Set off with a bit structure and calm the room
- Give everyone a chance to say something about themselves
- Take note of the main thing they want to hear – write down the challenge that relates to
It also gives you the chance to go last. The assembled have said their bit, they are listening to you. Here is your opportunity to articulate your creds. An important part of the sales mindset is be peer to peer – well here is your moment to say your bit. If you are the founder, say why you started the business, if you run the EMEA team, lay out your territory, if you head up the AM team, name drop some of your relevant accounts. You get the picture.
But we don’t dwell on ‘us.’ It’s time to move on.
The video demo (the main bit)
Before charging off into the next section, just take a moment to consider your pace. However slowly you think you are talking, now is the time to sloooooooooooooow right down. You’re saying good stuff, give your fans the time to take it all in eh?
Ok, now because we are prepped and have done a killer intro we now have a very clear set of milestones to head for through the demo. (This equally applies to an agency integrated pitch)
- Agenda points pre-agreed with your contact
- List of ‘key things’ that each person has just told you they want to hear
The task now is to methodically go through each of these. Do this and you won’t go wrong.
Ask for feedback at the end of each bullet. Nice open questions like:
- How would that work in your business?
- What similar challenges have you faced?
- What kind of value would that bring to your team?
- How much of a difference would that make?
- If you didn’t do this, what would happen?
And listen to the answers. Talk, you know, like a real conversation. Don’t pretend what you have is perfect for everything. Do not oversell.
When you get to talking about ‘what’ you do
At some point you (hopefully) get down to brass tacks. What this fangled widget actually does.
Now, I’ve drunk the Koolaid of the Simon Sinek, Why, How, What. I place great value in having your Why and How down pat. However, it is important you are also able to articulate the What in a compelling way.
If you just lay out that your fangled widget does A, B and C then the danger is that the conversation becomes transactional and, yawn, boring. Instead, a better route is to surround what you do with Challenge, Feature, Result. (I was taught this by the excellent Raoul Monks some years ago)
E.g. You sell piss ups in breweries.
“People thought it would be easy but we knew from experience that it wasn’t so simple, actually finding an open brewery is quite tricky. So we built a platform that lets you know which doors are open when AND what casks have just been tapped. The result is you don’t spend hours in Ubers with your mates chasing bad leads to closed down lager factories on the wrong side of town. Instead, with us you get straight stuck in and it’s 100% good times.”
OMG, I’m struggling out there
What if your sparkling wit and repartee just aren’t cutting it and it feels like you’re running through treacle? Well don’t despair, remember we’ve come into this prepped. We’re not going down without a fight.
- Ask your contact what else the team would like to see
- Call out people and ask if you have covered the point they raised during the intro
- Dig into your knowledge from your pre-call plan – ask someone if they had similar problems organising piss ups at PWC
And if you get asked a serious question, the kind of question that takes thought (and possibly a conversation with your team, your developers, your designers) then do not feel compelled to give the full answer on the spot. Acknowledge that it’s a killer question and that it deserves a proper answer. Give a timescale and channel that you will get back to them. (And then make blimming sure you do as said)
So what we have done so far is we have communicated that we are going to communicate (laid out the agenda in the introduction), we have communicated (the middle bit) and now it is time to communicate what we have communicated.
I know, what a sentence. Let me explain.
When drawing the session to a close go back to the agenda, check it off with the group.
“We have covered A B C”
Then go through each of the main points everyone said at the start
“Have I answered each of your questions on X Y Z?
“OK, and I have demonstrated that our fangled widget solves these challenges, has these features and most importantly will give you and team these results.”
Now where you go from here takes a bit of mental dexterity and feeling the temperature of the conversation. The crucial thing is to take the initiative with the next step.
If it’s been a super positive experience then move to setting up a demo and tech talking to tech this afternoon. Heck, if it’s all go say you are sending the contract over. If it’s going to take a bit more work, then it could be set up a trial and you follow up with your contact in a month’s time to field feedback. And remember, always but especially at the moment recognise that these people have given up their time and right now that’s possibly the most important asset they have.
Thank them, be clear on what happens next.
And switch your camera off before doing a fist pump lap of the bedroom.