Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Latest "Meetings/Presentations" Posts
Guest Faculty Post by Jennifer Palus
Including a SME (subject matter expert) in your sales process is a very smart move. The SME has additional expertise and can often explain ideas with more depth and clarity than you can. The SME can help interpret your prospect’s business challenges and concern. You can often enable your expert to talk directly to the prospect’s expert in their own language.
Because a SME can relieve prospect fears and confirm client purchase decisions, they add to your credibility and are a valuable resource, if you prepare and use them correctly.
Tip #1. Give your SME context and a goal.
Preparing the SME is the salesperson’s responsibility. Don’t just hop in the car and assume they know what you need. A SME is an expert – but not in sales! – she needs to understand the players on the prospect’s side of the table and the role you want her to play. Explain the personalities and opinions, not just the org chart. For example, if you are hoping use your CFO to convert a resistant VP of Finance, make sure you provide context and the VP’s past objections. Most importantly, explain what “success” looks like for the SME, e.g., “If you can help Linda decide to sign off on the pilot program, that’s a win.”
Tip #2. Set guardrails for interaction with the prospect.
Sometimes a SME gets so excited to be part of a sales process that they talk a little too much or even try to negotiate the sale.
Guest Faculty Post by Tim Searcy
As a salesperson, I did not always appreciate the value of a weekly sales meeting with my boss. I was always prepared; my boss rarely was. I spent most of my time answering questions whose answers were available in my report or defending my integrity against an onslaught of skepticism. Although my supervisor would imply that these meetings were to assist me, they were a “check the box function,” except when the overall numbers for the firm were down. If the sales team was behind, the questions became more insistent and more accusatory.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A decent weekly sales meeting can be painless, helpful and productive for your sales representatives. It requires a bit of a change in three things that HBS believes have the highest leverage: Mindset, Mechanics and Magic.
- This is not a team sport. I am opposed to team meetings in which every salesperson reports out on the previous week’s activities. Don’t waste time in-group meetings. Sales is golf, not football.
- It is not the manager’s meeting.This is your sales representative’s meeting, and the agenda items, updates, and outcomes are his or her responsibility.
- You BOTH need to be prepared.Manager and representative alike needs to be prepared, having reviewed the same information and with a clear idea of what you each want to get out of your time together.
- Preparation: Insist each representative provides an advanced report including all movements since last meeting. Important issues and information must be presented in the format of an agenda with a clear outcome that defines success.
Guest Faculty post by Jennifer Palus
Case studies are at once the most over-inflated and under-supported tool in the sales toolbox.
A case study is often imagined to be this self-targeting, silver bullet that can easily convince even the most resistant prospect. Sometimes even a prospect falls into this trap. Intrigued by your sales pitch, the prospect knows he has to convince his boss (and then her boss) to approve the purchase. “That’s great! Can you get me a case study?” The prospect asks, eyes gleaming with confidence that the case study will be all the persuasion needed to get approval.
Business people seem to hold the image of an idealized case study in the minds. They imagine case study layout and graphics so beautiful that simply taking it out of one’s briefcase or displaying it on-screen stops all other conversation. They imagine the perfect amount of text – just enough copy to grab the reader’s heart and mind (and checkbook), with not one word more. They imagine a conclusion so compelling that the prospect will sign on the dotted line before he has finished reading the last statistic. Cue the music; we have a deal…thanks to the case study!
A strong case study may not be THAT magically effective – but they are powerful tools. So why then is the metaphorical case study cupboard so bare for most of us? Why, at almost every company I’ve ever worked with, do people hangs their heads and make excuses when asked about the quality and quantity of their case studies?
Last week I shared how sales management has changed. Today I am sharing the top three skills sales managers need to succeed in this new era of sales.
The “State of Sales Productivity 2015” study by Docurated found that only one-third of a sales rep’s day is actually spent selling, while 31% of their time is spent searching for or creating content, and 20% is spent on reporting, administrative and CRM-related tasks. Nowadays, 44% of B2B organizations do not verify if the business is valid before passing it to sales, and 50% of leads come from outside the standard process, according to a study by IKO System. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time and effort for both sellers and sales managers.
While companies may have been able to get away with wasting time in the past, companies that want to make it in this new fast-paced era of sales will have to have a laser focus on the activities that drive results. There is no room for dawdling. What’s the solution? Better sales management.
Below are three sales management skills necessary for thriving in the new era of sales.
1) Selecting targets.
There’s an adage that salespeople talk to whomever will talk to them. In the new world of selling, your responsibility is to make certain they are talking to the decision makers who can approve large opportunities that will come to fruition in the near future. Working with sales leadership, you must establish a filter that helps to define the most likely candidates for higher-opportunity sales efforts.
Movie Quotes, Half-Stories and other Presentation Problems
I love movie quotes. They help connect people through a shared experience, even though the movie was watched separately. Magic. Except…when you use the movie quote in a meeting and there are people who did not see the movie or do not remember the quote.Then the opposite happens- people in the meeting feel left out and often annoyed.
Movies are not the only references. The same thing happens when you use expressions like-
- “I’m sure you all have heard the story…”
- “Like the old-joke goes…”
- “Sports legend (insert name here) was famous for…”
I can feel my age in the moments I try to use a reference to the movie “The Godfather” or make the statement “No one got fired for buying IBM.” I lose a chunk of the group to whom I am speaking because they don’t have the reference.
What to do:
- Tell the whole story – If you have a key story, which is critical for creating memorable points in a presentation, tell the whole story rather than assuming your audience has the same reference. To slim-down the story, prepare it and script it in advance.
- Frame the story – In your presentation, a good story is more meaningful when it illustrates a point. When you have told your story, summarize what it meant to the audience.
- Clean out the non-compelling references – Dropping lots of references to pop-culture and historical references can become distracting. Tell fewer stories and you will create a more memorable discussion.
When you take people to meetings, magic or mayhem can happen. I’ve seen both and the magic is worth the risk if you can control the mayhem. Some of the mayhem is self-inflicted by avoidable mistakes.
5 Deadly Meeting Mistakes
- Pile On – When people add on to answers given by other members of the team it does not provide completeness. It creates a sense of lack of confidence in the members of your team to whoever else is attending.
- Fidget – Wiggling legs, tapping pencils, spinning chairs and so on are all fidgets. I have even seen members of a team get up mid-presentation to refresh their coffee while someone is presenting.
- Glancing – When a question is asked by their team, and we glance at each other to figure out who will answer, we look suspicious and unprepared.
- Digital Interrupts – Emails, texts, ringing smartphones in the middle of a meeting are unacceptable. You think everyone knows it until someone blows it.
- Double-talk – Over-talking anyone in the room happens because we anticipate the question, disagree with an answer, or are just focused on our own response.
What to Do:
- Assign the Host – During your preparation before the meeting you must assign a host from your team to manage the questions and interruptions. If anyone asks a question, the host’s responsibility is to confirm the question and then delegate it to one team member to answer. This helps to control Double-Talk, Glancing and Pile on.
- Agree on the guidelines – Set the expectations for the rules before the meeting with your team.
How to manage your sales team’s eleventh-hour fear, panic, and frustration
PowerPoint presentations can leave your audience sleeping unless you use it the right way
Whether with clients, partners or your own team, meetings can feel like a necessary evil. Here’s how to make them more effective–and less of a drag.
Death by Meeting is the title of a great book by Patrick Lencioni. It is also an oft-heard expression that encapsulates so much of the negative commentary on ineffective bureaucracy.
Many people have meetings as a part of their regular jobs. And many people hate them.
I came across some great statistics from the folks at SalesCrunch.com in their infographicDon’t Suck at Meetings. (They’ve also posted some funny anecdotes atDontSuckAtMeetings.com.)
A couple of the highlights include:
- Engagement is 20% higher when the guests do most of the talking, rather than the presenter.
- 15-minute meetings are 50% more successful than 45-plus-minute meetings
- The longer the slide deck, the less likely it will be read when it is forwarded after the meeting. (If your deck is 40 or more slides, forget getting it read.)
- Attendees may promise to forward the materials, but only do it 1 out of 7 times!
But the reality is that you probably can’t kill all meetings. So here’s how to make the meetings you lead and attend more effective.
1. Think Short
If you want engagement and productivity, then focus on a tight agenda with clear outcomes. Simplicity is not just the hallmark of elegance; it is also critical for effectiveness.
2. Go Light on Handouts
What I often do is provide a list of additional materials that can be sent to support any key ideas in the presentation and offer to send those materials separately.
Meetings stink. But here are a few ways you can make them more productive.
I hate meetings for the sake of meetings, including “keeping people in the loop” meetings and regularly scheduled meetings of staff.
But I also believe that meetings have great purposes for making decisions, hearing out disagreements and setting a course of action. A dear friend of mine recently sent out a list of guidelines for meeting management, which I am passing along here.
One of his key ideas is that meetings should be re-titled, “decision making tables.” I like it.
Here are his other key rules for making meetings count.
Avoid pursuing a personal agenda.
You can still represent your interests or subject matter expertise. But if you look like you are focused only on yourself, you will be sniffed out and eliminated from the process quickly. The agenda should be about what is in the best interest of the company and the collected minds–not just your priorities.
Don’t lose sight of the meeting‘s purpose.
People that take meetings off track receive the one visible trademark of a dying personal brand: the eye roll. When people begin to say (or think), “Here we go again, another train of thought that has left the station on the wrong tracks,” you are dead. Stay on the agenda, and make sure others stay on topic.
Avoid constantly agreeing or disagreeing.
Nobody likes either a “yes” person or a constant naysayer. Consider your opinion and determine if you have something new or special to add.