Infoteam Logo.png

The best Sales People start with the end in mind 

Posted by Philip Kreindler on 28-Sep-2015 09:00:00

Sales PeopleWhat customers say about you is the clearest possible indicator of whether they are going to move forwards. They don’t necessarily say things directly but if you ask them what they thought about a first meeting comments like ‘You came well prepared’ and ‘You understand our needs’ are as good as telling you the sale will progress from there. Let’s look at how to use these answers to determine the behaviours required to achieve them.

Invest in our funds

I have a client in the private equity fund industry. They have funds made up of investments in a wide range of established companies and start-ups. They go to large institutional investors offering them a good and safe return.

They are a relatively small player and with many much larger and better-known funds in the market it is a fairly tough job to earn the trust of potential investors. It is very much a case of ‘How they sell is why they win’. In particular, it is vital to get client meetings right.

What I recently asked the Investor Relationship Managers (the Sales People) to do was imagine they had completed a successful first meeting and asked the customer what they thought of that first meeting. The Investor Relationship Managers then took each of the answers and brainstormed the actual actions and behaviours they needed to do or show to make sure the customers would give them the right response.

We called the responses we wanted from customers ‘Aspirations’ and matched them with actions to achieve them. For instance the first Aspiration was to have a customer say ‘You came well prepared’. These are the actions that the Investor Relationship Managers identified:

  1. Prepare prospect overview (organisation, key people, history, investments)

  2. Find out and use their terminology

  3. Prepare Appointment One-Pager

Another Aspiration was ‘The way you work suits me. I like you.’ These are the actions:

  1. Ensure that our behaviours reflects positive values (trustworthy, modesty, honesty)

  2. Go the extra mile – do things that the customer doesn’t expect

  3. Demonstrate responsiveness e.g. meeting summary

And a third Aspiration was ‘I really understand what you do’. These are the actions:

  1. First understand the client (ask smart questions, listen, summarize)

  2. Then adapt message and substantiate through a case study

  3. Don’t waste customer time with irrelevant information 

These actions have now become a checklist of actions every Investor Relationship Manager goes through in preparing for a first meeting. This means the team has a series of repeatable actions they know are likely to deliver results.

Aspirations need to be specific and realistic

I was lucky to be working with a very smart and motivated group of Sales People in these Investor Relationship Managers but even so we had to do some work making the Aspirations concrete and achievable. You can’t have an Aspiration like ‘We think you guys are the best ever’ or ‘Just show me where to sign’. 

I think it is important that the aspirations are created from the bottom up. It is the Investor Relationship Managers who run first meetings with customers and they identified what they wanted to achieve. I don’t think it would have been so successful if the managers had imposed a set of aspirations.

I also think it is important to break the Sales Process down and have a set of aspirations for each stage of the process. You want to define the behaviours that will achieve the successful exit criteria for that stage. So in the example above, the successful exit criteria for that first meeting would be the customer agreeing to a detailed proposal and language like ‘The way you work suits me. I like you’ is a strong indicator that they will behave in the way you want.

Using this approach for the whole Sales Process

I have used this approach, of beginning with the end in mind, for the whole Sales Process and it has worked well. I recently ran a workshop with a large corporate law firm and these are a couple of their aspirations and the actions required to achieve them.

Aspiration 1 -You showed us how you will help us achieve our objectives

  1. Identify and focus on the most important challenges

  2. Present creative and unconventional solutions

  3. Demonstrate competence and depth of team

  4. Communicate in a way which demonstrates how we will be as negotiators

Aspiration 2 - We liked your proposal document

  1. Tailor it to client/project, use their terminology, answer their questions

  2. Demonstrate understanding of goals, requirements and business

  3. Use clear, concise and uncomplicated language 

There’s no doubt that if you have a clear idea of what you want your customer to think and say you can determine the behaviours that will lead them to say the right things. The right outcomes will follow closely.

Ask yourself

  • Do you have a clear idea of what you want your customers to say about you?

  • Do you know exactly what you have to do to get them to say the right thing?

  • Do you systematically repeat the successes you achieve?

Enjoyed this blogpost? Download our eBook:

Sales Process eBook