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The Sales Japan Series - 199: Virtual Selling: How To Prepare For Online Meetings

199: Virtual Selling: How To Prepare For Online Meetings

The Sales Japan Series

Online meetings with existing clients are a breeze. The connection is there, the history, the trust has been built and the rapport building was done a long time ago. Basically this is a walk in the park. Now the brand new client is a different matter. You have never met, let alone even seen each other before and now you meet online for the first time. This can be a daunting prospect.

There is going to be a heightened sense of stress for this first meeting. “Will I be able to build trust online?”, “Can I establish some rapport, when we are separated physically and I am only seeing them on this little screen?”, “Will I be able to hear them clearly, given how poorly the audio performs in these online meetings?”. If we prepare well, we can reduce some of these anxieties.

Review your industry knowledge. What is their situation today given Covid-19 is disrupting so many sectors of industry? Is the market declining, rising, how fast, at what volume? What do I know about their company. How is their current revenue situation? What is the situation with their rivals – what would be some common issues they would be facing too? What about this individual I am meeting? What is their title, what information about them can I pick up through a Google search, looking at Linkedin, Facebook, my own contacts, their vendors, my colleagues, etc.

Before we speak with them, we have to review the value we bring to our clients. We are not focused on the spec details of the product, but on the benefits we deliver. If they decide to adopt us as a supplier, then how have other clients applied the benefits of our value inside their own companies. This could be a very useful insight to introduce when talking to this new customer.

What is likely to be their perspective? Buyers are generally interested in where they can place your solution in the triangle of tension, between time, quality and cost. Are we talking to the CEO, who will have a strategic viewpoint on where the company needs to go? Is it the CFO who is razor sharp focused on the cash flow burn and preserving the available cash inside the organisation? Is the client a technical buyer, who is going to be concerned about the spec, the gritty detail, the product guarantees available? Is the buyer a user buyer who is worried about ease of adaption inside the company, the after sales service help available, the delivery times involved?

Before we even make the appointment for the meeting, we need to sit down and draw a vertical dividing line on a sheet of paper. On one side we scope up what are the likely key issues facing this company right now. On the other side we align our solutions for their possible issues. There may be things we can't help them with and that is okay. We just need to understand where we can help them, depending on the priorities they attach, to the issues they currently face.

When we make the call to see about a business meeting, we try and understand if there is in fact a point to us meeting at all. We start by thanking them for their time on the phone and tell them “in order to properly prepare for our meeting, may I ask a few quick questions?”. We then check on possible needs they may have. We have already done some research and have come up with some hypotheses on what they might need. We are still in the dark at this point though, so we need to try a few possibilities and see if they correspond to the needs they have. “Many companies in your industry are currently facing an issue about XYZ. Is that also a concern for you?”. We are only looking for indications of what actually are their key pain points at this time.

Depending on their business, we may ask them about their current usage. Due to Covid-19, are they using more or less of the thing we supply? We also check on if they have budget to do business with us. “I know that companies are looking carefully at where they invest their funds at the moment and I am sure your company is the same. What kind of budget have they given you to work with at the moment?

At this point we may have sufficient information to conclude there is no actually point in meeting with them. We should say so, in a polite way, framed around not wishing to waste their time. If we think there is value, then we should make that point and confidently ask for the appointment to meet online.

08/18/20 • 10 min

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