A lot of what Brian’s wrote in his 11 Do’s and Don’ts for Sales Teams From the Guy Being Sold To resonated with me big time. Frankly, a lot of it made me roll my eyes because it’s shocking how many sales people have said or done silly things in my years as the recipient of sales pitches.
It got me thinking that there’s a whole other set of tips that apply to in-person meetings specifically, especially for less experienced salespeople. The following are based on my personal experience so if there are others you’d like to add, please do so in comments. It’d be helpful to hear what others think.
1. Do show up on time
Sounds pretty basic, right? I assure you, not showing up on time is still a problem. If you know you’ll be late, shoot me an email with apologies and estimated arrival time. No harm done if I know when to expect you.
2. Do know the basics about my company
You need to know the basics about the company you’re selling to. It’s so frustrating when the sales rep tries to sell me their product and has no clue about my industry or my competitors. Happens all the time. You wouldn’t go to a job interview not knowing where you are interviewing so why would you show up at a meeting not knowing the basics?
3. Don’t print out a pound worth of paper
We live in a digital age. Send it to me electronically beforehand and I’ll print it out if I need to. I’m not going read it all in the meeting, and when I get back to my desk it’ll get recycled and I’ll be annoyed that you killed a small forest for something of no value.
Instead, have your content loaded on your iPad so if we do need to refer to any materials during the meeting, you can show them to me quickly.
4. Do send me a summary of our meeting
It shows me you were paying attention and you understand my needs. It’s also a good summary for me to refer to before our next meeting. But…
5. Don’t send me answers right after the meeting
If we have a discussion and agree on next steps that require some thinking, don’t send me answers within the hour of seeing each other. There’s no way you’ve given it enough thought to get back to me already. Show me you’ll give the problem the attention it deserves, otherwise, I know you’re not serious about our dealings.
6. Do dress the part
Do your research and see what’s appropriate for the type of company I’m with or for the setting that we’re meeting in. When you show up at a startup in a suit and tie, you stick out like a sore thumb and it’s hard to trust you as it seems to me like you didn’t think about the type of company I work at. I’m not saying show up in jeans (you could if you came to a sales call at Base), but lose the tie until your next meeting and we’ll both feel more comfortable.
7. Don’t push me
Just because we met in person it doesn’t mean I’m ready to sign. Not only am I still considering your product or service, but I’m considering you as well. There have been several instances where I decided against a vendor based on the behavior or attitude of the sales person. It’s not in the bag until we sign the dotted line and forcing me towards a decision is probably going to do more harm than good.
8. Don’t overshare
We’re not best friends. I like to be friendly and I appreciate it if you are, but I don’t want to hear how wasted you got on the weekend in order to establish rapport. Save that for happy hour with your buddies.
9. If you social stalked me, weave it in, but don’t creep me out
It’s nice to know when a sales person did their homework prior to a meeting, but watch it with the references. There’s a fine balance between knowing that I’m a bit crazy about my dog and cat from my Instagram profile, but it’s another if you retrace all my steps from Friday’s pub crawl based on my Foursquare checkins. Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should talk about it all.
10. Don’t overdo it on the cologne or perfume
Two thumbs up for personal hygiene, but you’re not here for a hot date. Use cologne and perfume in moderation. Yes, this has happened more than once.
11. Don’t tell me your sob story
We all have our issues. There’s a time and place to discuss them and a sales meeting isn’t one of them. I’m not going to buy from you because your wife is pregnant and you need the commission, or you lost your cat. I’ll sympathize, but I’ll take you less seriously and actually be less likely to buy from you.
12. Respect me and I’ll respect you back
You want me to think you’re an expert in what you do, I get it. But remember that I’m an expert in what I do, too. Let’s respect each other for what we both do well. There’s nothing worse than having a conversation in a sales call and the sales person constantly trying to prove that they know better. What a turn off!
13. Be honest
No product or service is perfect. You’re not going to pull wool over my eyes so please don’t try. I’ll appreciate you more if you’re up front about the negatives I may see in your product or service. If you offer me smart alternatives or workarounds, we’ll move forward.
I know that each sales person has their own style, but since I’m the person buying from you, hopefully my advice will have some weight.
So what do you think of this feedback? Is there anything on here that doesn’t make sense to you? I’d love to hear what you think.