Yesterday I blew a sales opportunity - badly. After all these years, you'd think I'd know better. Unfortunately, I fell into a common trap that caused me to lose my good sense and make numerous sales-derailing mistakes in just 30 minutes.
Let me give you a bit of background. In the past few months, many of my friends have lost jobs due to company downsizings, restructurings and even closures. With the economy in turmoil and so much competition, it's tough to find a new position.
So, I decided to write Get Back to Work Faster, a guide for out-of-work professionals. In it, I show them how to leverage strategies from Selling to Big Companies (my book), to create jobs - even when no openings exist. I intend to give it away to anyone who needs it.
This project has taken over my life. I've developed a new website. I'm planning a massive launch campaign through my extended network and much, much more. Right now, I'm looking for sponsors for the entire Get Back to Work Faster initiative.
Which brings us to yesterday - my first conversation with a potential sponsor who offers software that professionals could use in their job creation campaigns (and sellers should use daily).
The Bad Sales Call Scenario
My partner on the project, Jeff, set up the ½ hour call with the CEO. We sent the book draft and sponsorship material to him earlier in the day so he'd have a chance to check it over before our conversation.
The meeting started at 3 pm. After a brief introduction in which we discovered that the CEO hadn't reviewed it yet, Jeff turned the call over to me to "explain what we're doing."
That's when the trouble started. We were using GoToMeeting. Suddenly I needed to show the e-guide, website and sponsorship document from my desktop - which is always a mess when I'm in the middle of a project.I started talking about the Get Back to Work Faster project and why we were doing it. Actually, I was quite passionate about how much job seekers needed the new ideas we were bringing to them.
Next, I walked him through the guide so he could see how "meaty" it was. Then I did a "show and tell" session on the new website and shared the strategies we'd be using to spread the word. Finally, I talked about the sponsorship opportunities.
His reaction? "That's really nice, Jill. Great idea. What you're doing will make a big difference for all those out-of-work people. They're not our target market, but I'll do whatever I can help you get the message out."
That's the moment I knew I'd blown it! How did I know? You only get the "thanks, but no thanks" response when you've been an over-eager zealot for your new product, service or solution.
Rather than force the issue or try to regroup on the spot, I backed off and refocused the conversation to his business. From my perspective, it was more important to build the relationship than get an immediate sponsorship.
Looking at what happened yesterday, I'm appalled that I could have done so many things wrong in one meeting. What's even worse is that solid, sales call planning could have averted every one of these classic bloopers.
- Mistake #1: I assumed that a busy CEO would review the materials prior to the session. What was I thinking? Or maybe I wasn't!
Next time I'll be prepared with a 3-5 minute overview that highlights the salient points without going into gory detail. Short, sweet and to-the-point. I'll net it out.
- Mistake #2: Jeff and I weren't clear on our roles, who would say what, when and how we'd handle transitions. We bantered things back and forth. It was nice and conversational, but grossly ineffective.
Next time I'll map out the entire meeting in advance. We'll strategize how to kick it off, how we'll position things and the questions that will be asked. We'll know who will present what - and even what not to talk about.
- Mistake #3: When Jeff told me to "explain what we we're doing," I did. What a set up for failure. To make matters worse, I spent 70% of the time talking about the Get Back to Work Faster guide, website, launch plan, teleseminars and more.
Next time, I'll pass on that! Most of what I covered was not relevant to the CEO. It was nice, to know, but didn't help him evaluate if a sponsorship was a wise investment of corporate funds.
Instead, I'll focus on how we'll reach his targeted customer, the marketing campaign that will reach ¾ million people in the first three months and that we're projecting 50,000 downloads. I'll talk about the extended shelf life of the Get Back to Work Faster guide - and value to his company. Also, I'll show examples of the ROI (return on investment) the decision maker could expect from the investment.
- Mistake #4: I was super conscious of the limited time we had together so I made sure I covered the whole shebang so the CEO didn't miss a thing.
Next time I'll remember that this is just the start of the relationship. I'll plan a logical next step before I go into meeting so it doesn't end like it did this time.
- Mistake #5: I was too vested in the outcome of the conversation. I really wanted this CEO to love my "new baby" and become a sponsor. Because of that, I lost my perspective.
Next time I'll detach from the outcome. Much as I think my Get Back To Work Faster initiative is the most wonderful thing in the world, I need to explore if it's a good fit for my potential customer.
Enough of my true confessions. Hopefully by sharing my mistakes with you, I can help you avoid them. And if nothing else, you'll be able to have a good laugh at my expense. Even sales experts goof up some times!