The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 9 months ago

Valuable Customer Meetings


The last two years have exposed some flaws in salespeople’s approach to customer meetings. If you want to be successful, you can’t go back to the way you secured or conducted on-premise meetings before the pandemic. Tim Caito shares the overlooked reasons customers prefer virtual meetings (besides convenience) and how to differentiate your approach to ensure you land and execute impactful meetings with customers. He shares three ways to prepare for and secure valuable meetings.

Here are the Essential Questions we mention in the episode:

  • What problems do you solve?
  • How do you solve those problems?
  • How do you solve them differently or better than the competition?
  • Where have you done it before, what’s your proof? 

Here are some additional resources:

Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

I think when you did a little deeper in the virtual world, part of the feedback you get is that approach to web meetings or ful. We had to be way more focused on the customers right. We had to give them real, strong rational on why they ought to talk to us. You're listening to the audible ready podcast, the show that helps you and your team's sell more faster. will feature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatable revenue growth, presented by the team at force management, a leader in BB sales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to the audible ready sales podcast. I'm Rachel Clip Miller. Today we are going to talk about our meetings and meeting with our customers. As we are coming out of this covid pandemic time, sort of, our expectations have changed after us being completely virtual for the last year and a half or so. In our own Tim Kato is joining me for this conversation. Hi Tim, well, Rachel, how you doing today? I am doing good, and I should say that we are doing this virtually. Yes, we are, and it's good to be doing virtually with the conversation that we're having today. This point in time really represents a moment in time for our relationship with our customers. Many people might have put things on hold. It may be ready to start again. We're at the start of a of a new year, and it's also time for us to really think about how we are communicating with our customers, how we are holding these conversations, these meetings, so to speak. Yeah, and Rachel, I'm actually motivated to talk about this because of the number of conversations I'm having with force management customers right now. Yeah, ending on where they are in the world and the local conditions, that this is starting to happen more that people are going in the phrase I'm going to use here, Rachel, on premise meetings. You know, we're in the customers location or we're in a location where we're together facetoface, like we used to, and they're asking so what should we do in these first few meetings coming out of this? So I think it's it's a relevant topic and I'd like to share some insights that people that I have worked with over the years on the customer side of the table, what they've been saying, and you know, frankly, Rachel, you and I aron positions where we have people reaching out to us trying to sell things, and so we got a lot of little person stole experience in this as well. Right. That's always my little pipeline builder when people try to sell it. I don't like how they do it, but I think, you know, it's your point to these non premised meetings are can represent an opportunity, but at the same time, you know, people liked meeting virtually there's a lot of things that they liked about it and I think it's important for us to really think through those expectations there to speak. Well, you know, Rachel, that is so spot on. You know, and and I think if you focus on what you said, what's the opportunity in what we're looking at here? We've just come out of twenty months of our radical change in the way business gets conducted and and you can go down any number of pass to look at that radical change that took place. But let's just look at the customers interactions with selling more organizations and I think if we look at the last months, it's a beautiful case study in them giving us feedback on what they like ...

...and the data, Rachel, has been overwhelming. People on the customer side of the process. They liked that. Now, rather than just stop right there at the surface all they like virtual meetings versus life. I think we need to look at that and study it, digg a little bit deeper in in what's going on to understand the root causes. I personally don't believe it's because they really love looking at screens and interacting with people over, you know, virtual web meetings. I believe there's root cause issues that cause them to like it better and Rachel, frankly, I think it's because that feedback reflects their history being a little bit scarred in the past from mad interactions with people on customer facing side of selling organizations. And I think if we study that we're going to find that there are three root causes and a bit of irony that we could look at here and, if you don't mind, that's why what I think we should focus on in our conversation today. Yeah, so they say they that's a really good point. Like people say they like virtual. It's it can be more convenient, but there is value to that in person meeting. So let's think about why those virtual meetings seems so are more preferred maybe, so to speak. Our customers might prefer those virtual meetings. What are we doing as sales people that create that environment where they're reluctant to meet with US in person? So I love to go through these ideas with you, Tim. I know the first one is expectations. Yeah, so, you know, kind of an interesting place to start right and and Rachel, I must say what I'm about to say. These are very, very generalized comments. Some of our listeners might say, well, this is that doesn't apply to us, but when you listen to this from the customer, the prospect side of it, they have a tendency to lump us all in the same big bucket. We've written a great white paper on this. That is as true today as it's ever been, Rachel, seller deficit disorder, yes, and in so let let's keep that in mind as we go through. It's and I'm going to encourage people that are listening don't discount what I say at surface level. Be Willing to dig into this just a little bit deeper to hear my perspective. First one, the first of these three things. We have to look at our expectations. I think when you did a little deeper in the virtual world. Part of the feedback you get is that approach to web meetings or folk we had to be way more focused on the customers right. We had to give them real strong rashing out on why they ought to talk to us from the very beginning, even in the BEDR sales development rep prospecting calls that we made. It couldn't be about them. You know, Rachel, you and I have received, I probably get ten emails a day from people blindly reaching out. Hey, wonder if one o'clock on Thursday we would be a good time for you and I to connect so that I can explore if there are ways my company can help yours. You know, so totally uninformed. I actually, Rachel, get bothered that I have to hit the block button. I'm not gonna, you know, I'm not even going to respond to that. If you don't want this anymore, send me a stop email. No, I don't want to have to do that. But for letters I have to punch as opposed to, you know, just block sender. But but what's my point in this? Expectations from the very beginning. have an informed point of view. Why are you reaching out to me and what's the irony in all this? Rachel? That's as prevalent today as it's always been, but it's heightened because they've had a lot of bad experiences of people saying, Hey, I'm going to be in the building, how about I stopped by? Or Hey, we haven't talked for a...

...long time, or hey, my senior manager is in town, we'd love to come by. There's no time for that anymore and I don't know that there's ever been time for that. But I think we have to set expectations from the beginning. So here's what I'm going to suggest, Rachel, and this area, as we transition back, be very clear from every one of your first contacts, one with your prospects that we're cycling back into on premise beings, even if it's an existing customer. Be absolutely clear on a point of view, informed purpose. This process payoff for this meeting. Point of view. We have a perspective because of our past business with you and where we're at today, because you are likely facing the same issues. Several of our other customers have an advanced point of view. That's about them. Several of our customers have found that they have really relied on distributed design capabilities for their new products over the last eighteen months and that approach surface choked points in their process that keeps them from being agile. How's that going with you? And you know, start off from a very beginning point of view. Focus that. This is why I'm calling you, not, you know, just to say hi or to ask you questions, to see if I can sell you something. Nobody has time for that. They should never have had time for that, but that's that's the first start, purpose, process path. Here's the reason why I'm calling today, to talk about that point of view and how it plays out in your world process. I'd like to hear your perspective. I'd like to learn what's the impact on your business. I will share with you some of what some of our other customers have been finding this or what the data suggests. I'm going to give you something today, customer. It's not just one way. I'm here to share some expertise with you and maybe help you learn some things about your business you might not have known about for and payoff, payoff. What's in it for you if you spend that thirty, forty five minutes with us now, right from the very beginning, Rachel. We're setting expectations for interaction that's focused on them and their big issues. And here's what we know, Rachel. They're working on those whether we show up or not. Right, so right. Expectation setting is the very first stage, especially if the point of view we have about the problem might involve other people than the person were maybe trying to reach out to. Throw that's the first one. Yeah, I think this time since, Oh, this time in history, but really, I don't know how else to say it, this point in time that we're in right now, the your customer is likely dealing with some change around that economic landscape. There's merging, there's supply issues that affecting them, labor market issues are likely something going on that has changed in the past couple years. So when you're setting these expectations for the meeting, the three piece that you just talked about, that has to be buyer focus, but your point of view should also be accounting for the current state, so to speak. Exactly, and you raise a great point there, Richel. We are competing with a lot of things for mind share, even in the moment of an on premised meeting, and if we don't make the top three or four. There's no time for us now. I could argue that's the way it all, we should have been, but it hasn't been perceived that way and seller deficit disorder. The marketplace has a tendency to paint us all with the same broad brush of you want my time to pitch your stuff and it's not even on my priority list. Therefore, I don't have time for you, and even if I say okay, it's...

...going to be limited. Now you use the word. When we started this Rachel, Opportunity Water from endous opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the very beginning different from everybody else, not by virtual what we sell or what we represent, but the way we approach them. It is much a huge opportunity right now, and people that I work with that bye for a living. They tell me you can tell it in the first two minutes what the conversation is going to be like. Right. Okay, so expectations. I want to shift now of the second concept of trust. We talked a lot about trust and how it's important in the sales process, but we want to be by our aligned when we're talking about trust as well. Yeah, and this where I'm going to beg for a little bit of tolerance from the audience because what I'm about to say is going to sound controversial to long standing, deeps beliefs. Those of us that are in customer facing positions will have Right. We missed the boat when we talk about trust. Now I can just hear everybody. You know people only buy for people they trust. Not True, not true. I'm gonna tell you. Ask buyers. They said, I buy from people I don't trust every day, and I say why? Because they have the best fit for the solution I need. Right and and I'm not against trust, Rachel, believe me, I am not against trust all right, but I think we overrotate on a misunderstanding about trust. That is so important as we cycle back to on premise meetings to take a slightly different view of trust. We for years, I think I'm talking very general and Barn Right now, we have equated the trust that the buyer needs to have in us as trust to US personally. If I trust you personally, I will buy from you. And what we have found, especially in the last year, we're supply chain issues came into play, we're scarcity of resources came into play, were. Everyone was challenged, in some cases on the economic landscape, they shifted their strategic priorities and what they funded. All all those kind of things came into play and we believe, well, if you trust me personally, you'll allow me to get access to what those new priorities are, and I think we've misplaced the trust. When you talk to people that by, here's what they say about trust. All right, trusting you personally, that's a luxury, but trusting you personally does not automatically equate to your company can do what you say it could do, especially around that point of view you were talking about. I need to trust that you are focused on me and my problems, not pushing your solutions. I need to trust that if I do work with you, you'll be there in the uncertain times that are coming. I need to trust that you're a subject matter expert, that you can get me two places I couldn't get to on my own because you got unique insight across the market. And, more than anything, Rightchel, I need to trust that if I introduce you to other people in my company, you're not going to damage my internal credibility. So there's a lot that goes into the trust, but it's not necessarily about trusting US personally as much as it is trusting that our perspective, on that point of view, that big issue that we have, we've got the right insight, we've got the right process, we've got the right solutions and the right ongoing support to actually help them address that big problem. Now, I know there's a lot of people say, well, Tim that's the essence. So what we focus on and trust. But I'll go back to cellar deficit disorder, Rachel. There's a lot of us out there. They do not trust. Why? Because they think...

...they've been scarred in the past. So to me, part of the interplay between these items I'm going to talk about if I set the right expectations from the beginning and what I'm focused on is not necessarily establishing personal trust. I'm establishing trust that what we're going to do with one another in this meeting that we're now doing on premise facetoface I'm going to take. I'm going to have it focused on the things that will produce the most value for you, not just for me. And what's the irony in that one, Rachel? The more we focus on them and solving the problem, the better it is for US anyway. But we have to take a different twist, and so let me just end this part by advising what we should not do. What we should not do is, because people are just sneaking back into these on premise meetings and they have all those other issues like you're talking about, Rachel, that we become very, very cautious when you know, for a lot of good reasons, the customers that accept the meeting limited. Hey, I only have twenty minutes, it's only going to be me, and when we start they say, tell me what you got the that kind of set up, Rachel, is a reflection of bad experiences in the past and we've got to resist the temptation to slip right into that, forget everything I talked about and boom or right into let me show you what I have, let me show you a quick demo, let me tell you all the great results we've achieved wrong. And that's where we go back, Rachel, those four essential questions we've talked about. You need to trust I'm focused on you and your business. That my solutions. I'm going to walk you through how we solve those. I'll give you some ideas how we're different. I've got proof. We could do that. Yeah, those essential questions. will put them in the show notes, but many of you who are longtime listeners of the podcast know know them. What problems do you solve? How do you solve those problems? How do you do it differently or better than everybody else in the market, and where have you done it before? And the purpose to having these is making sure that you are answering them in a way that's meaningful to your buyer. So when we're talking about trust, it is being able to show that you can solve those problems, you can do it and better, and you have proof that backs up what you see, what you're say that you're doing to and we've talked a lot about communicating here, communicating the trust, communicating the expectations for the meaning. But there's also an element to us of the process at which you move your opportunity forward, and that process brings a lot of points where you need to be aligning to your buy or even the process in your first on premise meeting, for example. That is so spot on, Rachel, process, and want you to think about this. In the days gone by, pre global shutdown, right. A lot of the work that we did with our clients when we first started work with them on process, the process they had for managing their customer interactions were, frankly, very inside out, or in other words, what's our process, what do we need to do? And from a sale standpoint, a lot of times that process was aimed at how do I move them through the stages of my sales cycle and what I think we can take as feedback, and I've made some, you know, some references to this on. But what we can take is feedback in the last twenty months is, believe it or not, they want us to follow their process, not our sales process, their bond process, right, not our prospecting process, their exploratory process, you know, not our support and customers success process, their implementation and success process.

So so you know, focusing on the process side of this is to be very clear from the beginning right to lay out our approach, purpose, process payoff. I talked about it in expectation setting, but have it focused on them and the way that they want to go through things. Guess what, early on they're not thinking about buying something from you. They're trying to explore what's going on and how that might relate to a problem. In fact, they probably want to spend more time hearing our perspective on the problems we're seeing from our position, expertise or market leadership that they should be paying attention to what's coming on the horizon. Man, we've been kind of inwardly focused for the last, you know, twenty months. As we start emerging from this, hopefully we got all these issues what's going on in the market place and we don't run into another surprise in our our recovery or you know, there's a lot of organizations do really well in the past twenty months. How do we keep that going? Process, process, process, all about them. I don't go forward to the next step in my process till I'm clear they're ready to do that in their process. So think about it, Rachel. What if, from a process the employment and this is like a fake rule, but what if we were only allowed to ask five questions, or what if we were only allowed to ask Bot there was some kind of universal acceptance of five questions? You know that that's kind of fantasy, but I lay that over top of the process piece and say, first of all, what would those five questions be for this upcoming meeting. We're going to keep things really tight. If I could only ask five, I'm not going to come up with those five in the parking lot outside when we're going in for the first meeting, right. I'm yeah, I'm going to have map that out, you know. Secondly, what do I need to do in advance of asking most five questions to set the most relevant and compelling context? Maybe it's that point of view, right. So we start with the point of view. We follow up with the first question that's aimed at what's going on. How does that point of view impact them? In there what we would call the economic landscape, Eachel, like what's going on in Your Business? Your Business Focus that you're paying attention to. It's one of your biggest problems. And then the questions we would carry the what if you only had five, you'd ask a lot better ones. And you know, one more bit, irony, Rachel. We go in planning to be very focused and relevant and compelling the big problems they have and only ask five questions. They're the ones that say we want to go deeper. Right. So I think from a process standpoint, what you said is spot on. Minding, the way we engage with them in our on premise meetings is so critical to have it aligned on their approach. And you know, here's a crazy idea. Maybe we ask them what their approach is rather than have our process. You know, I've said this for years. We ask you know our customers, customers. Do you think your are? You know our customer that's calling on you? Do you think they have a sales process? In routinely the answer is absolutely they have the sales process. And they say how do you know? And the answers almost always some version of because they subject me to it every day. Right, so it's something you're doing to me instead of something you're doing with me. So I think rotating the process around and not just the upfront, you know, business development or trying to get on premise meetings maybe with a new client or new customer. The meetings we do have with them eventually on premise or with existing customers, are qbrs, our implementation meeting, our...

...success meetings are conversations leading up to renewal. All have to be rotated through the Lens of the customer and that's maybe my my basic point on the process. If you were in their shoes. Right. What would be the process you would like to follow? And I think doubling down on that process has a dual benefit. Right, you talked about it. Our customers are dealing with a lot of shake up in the way they've run their business. Supply chain issues, resource issues, capital issues. Every day on linkedin there's a hundred messages looking for people, looking for people. Well, we have the same issues on our side, Rachel. I think comming on our customer facing team to make sure that we're leveraging not only the customers resources in the most effective way. Same thing back for us. Right, double down on process, following up on expectations. I set the expectation of showing the customer they can trust our approach to be focused on them and the big issues we likely know they have and we want to make sure we write size in them. That's what the process about and put a clear path forward. Yeah, well said him. Well said, and I think we talked about it at the start of this conversation, is that we are in a moment of struggle and a lot of ways, but there is opportunity here to position your solutions in a way that's so aligned to the buyer that they don't have any choice but to move forward with you. And these three areas, expectations, trust and process are good to keep in mind as we seize the opportunity. So let me end with one bit. I've been talking about irony. There's two points to be made where here. Real quick, Rachel. Number one, what's the irony in all this? Everything that I talked about could have been going on for years. It's been the desire of many force management customers to move in that direction. But in many cases, with faced with, you know, the pressure of what we need to do or the moments we've had or the competitive nature of where we've been. We know this stuff but we don't put it in play right. So to me they irony. And everything I talked about is getting back to on premise meetings. It just allows us to do what we've pretty much designed into our approach up till now. But because of the last year, what happened was our last twenty months. I believe the last twenty months expose some flaws in the approach and to me, that irony. And to be able to make sure we do all this as we cycle back and non premise meetings Rachel, this is a call for leadership action. To me, we've got a double down as a leadership organization to be able to make sure our customer facing professionals double down on understanding the critical nature of expectations and have them focused on big problems we know our customers have and our point of view around that, to make sure that we double down as whether it's frontline leadership, are all the way up the chain, to make sure that we're establishing the right kind of trust for our organization, for our capabilities, for our approach and helping the customers solve those big problems and double down, triple down on following the process we know we work as well, not assuming if we've told them, if we've designed our crm process in a way that they have to fill in the form. You know. This is hands on leading from the front, making sure that we're doubling down on these...

...expectations to re establish ourselves, because the opportunity in all this. Rachel talked about the irony side. Here's the opportunity side. People think they could just go back to the way they've done it before and I think the last twenty months has forever changed the buyers expectations, the customers expectations of what they're going to experience, and we can be on the leading edge of showing we paid attention and we listen and that this is our approach going forward. And I think what our listeners will find is if you do that, you're tapping into the things that they overwhelming. We said they liked about virtual interactions with selling organizations. A way to bring it back to our first point before having we way. I didn't you have to do it myself. I appreciate that. Great comments as always, Tim and I think hopefully for those of you listening, when you think about these meetings you've got coming out of the the new year, what their first on promise meetings? Hopefully Tim's guiding principles here, expectations, trust in process, gives you something to think about as you build that agenda and execute that meeting. Thank you for joining me today, Tim Hey, let's go fire up the world again. Rachel, Come on, all right, let's do it. Let's do it and thank it all of you for listening to the audible ready sales podcast. At force management, we're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite teams are proven methodologies deliver programs that build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the ability to execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US at force MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To not miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time,.

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