As salespeople, time spent with customers is the most valuable asset we have. Attention is currency and in a sales cycle we’re given precious few opportunities to build rapport, establish credibility and show customers how we can truly help solve their problems.
The most meaningful customer interactions happen in the form of meetings. Wouldn’t it be nice if good meetings ran themselves? If only salespeople were so lucky. It’s not a coincidence that top sales performers put lots of effort in running organized, super-productive customer meetings.
Next time you give a prospect a ring, be sure you make the most of your time by following these six pro tips for mastering customer calls.
1. Send an Agenda Ahead of The Meeting
Great sales meetings almost always include an agenda. A well-planned agenda keeps you on track and gives the customer an idea of what to expect to from the meeting. Sure, you might need to deviate from said agenda here and there, but having one shows the prospect that you mean business.
The best agendas are clear, mutual (meaning you both agree it makes sense) and personalized. Templates are a good start but adding details specific to their company / situation help communicate that they’re special.
Extra Credit: Review your agenda at the start of every meeting and ask your customer if there’s anything else they want to cover. They’ll often share information that is critical to understanding their key concerns / objections / requirements.
2. Confirm Your Meetings. No Excuses.
Why do high-powered executives have assistants to confirm their meetings? Because time is money and if your customer no-shows, you’re left with a hole in your calendar.
Reduce your no-show rate by sending a simple confirmation email 1–2 days before the meeting. This one simple step can boost the number of meetings you have by 15% or more.
Extra Credit: Engage the customer in your confirmation email to ask if they want to cover something outside of the agenda planned.
3. Don’t Wing It
Everyone has heard the saying “sales is an art.” While the expression has some truth to it, sales is actually more of a science than most people realize.
To bring your A game to each call, make sure you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish during your meeting. This means having a clear list of questions to ask, activities to complete and things you want to give and get from the customer during the course of your meeting or shortly thereafter.
In some organizations, this might be referred to you as your “sales process” or “sales methodology”. Whatever you have or don’t have, top salespeople aren’t shooting the breeze with customers, they’re laser-focused on obtaining and communicating key information that will help their likelihood of making a sale down the road.
Extra Credit: Use Pattern to templatize your sales process and save up to 1 hour per day updating your CRM.
4. Take Notes Like Your Life Depends on It
Unless you’re one of the very small people in the world with eidetic memory, you likely overestimate your ability to remember details. This weakness was demonstrated in a classic psychology experiment, which found that participants’ ability to remember a three-letter sequence quickly plummeted after they counted backwards in threes.
Great salespeople know this by heart and take copious notes when engaging with customers. Good notes are the foundation for you understanding your customer and their needs (which as mentioned above is a really important step to solving their problems).
Do yourself a favor and take good thorough notes during your meetings (or have someone from your team there to take notes for you). Not only will these notes become your primer for future engagements but they can also help get other members of your team that interact with your customer up to speed much more quickly.
Extra Credit: Ask your prospect at the beginning of your meeting if they mind if you take notes — This way when you’re furiously typing away at your computer during the meeting, they know you’re focused on them and not on your favorite social media site.
Customers always say no, and in the process you’ll come across as most well-mannered salesperson this side of the Atlantic.
5. Establish Next Steps and Action Items
Forward momentum is the key to any deal. Ending your customer call without identifying next steps is like fumbling on the one yard line. Before you wrap your call, establish mutually agreed upon next steps and ideally book your next time to meet. Re-gaining momentum after you’ve lost contact with a customer can take weeks or months which can spell death for any deal.
Extra Credit: Use Skip Miller’s Summarize Bridge Pull tactic to create forward momentum. Summarize Bridge Pull is a simple and effective framework that can be learned quickly and used in your next meeting.
6. Send a Thank You / Follow Up Email
People buy from people that understand and are attentive to their needs. There’s no stronger signal that you don’t care about your customer or their needs by going radio silent after a meeting. Make sure to send a thank you / follow up email within 24 hours of each meeting.
Good follow-ups include:
- A thank you for their time
- A summary of key learnings from the meeting
- Action items, complete with owners and deadlines
See some examples of Good Follow Up Emails from our friends at HubSpot.
Extra Credit: Send a handwritten thank you note. This is a time-consuming tactic but lands well with customers. Bond is an option for doing this at scale.
Go Forth And Prosper
Good sellers are often good at communication and rapport building but great sellers are good at the little things and have crazy attention to detail. Discipline yourself to follow these 6 steps and you’ll be mastering your customer meetings in no time.
Did we miss something? If so, comment below! Our Pattern community of top-notch salespeople always loves learning from other smart minds out there.