Stephen Colbert was recently interviewed and asked a question about how he had honed his interview skills during his time as host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Surprisingly, his answer had little to do with watching more experienced members of the traditional press do interviews and more about his own experience when he was learning improvisational comedy:
“One of the things I was taught early on is that you are not the most important person in the scene. Everybody else is.”
Salespeople would do well to keep Colbert’s lesson learned in mind when when dealing with customers.
If your real reason for meeting a client is to pitch a generic sales package or try and hit your monthly sales number or get another entry toward winning a sales contest your clients will sniff that out in an instant and escape the meeting as quickly as they can (or avoid the meeting altogether.)
If you can’t get a client to return a call or an email or get back to you on a proposal you submitted, I guarantee you that your voice mail, your email or your proposal was all about you and not enough about them.
If you’re not fully engaged in the goal of helping a client — if your primary reason for meeting isn’t about how to increase their business, increase their profits, or help them serve their clients better — you’re wasting their time.
I sat in on a weekly sales meeting at a broadcasting company a couple of years ago and (as in most weekly sales meetings) they were going around the room asking the team members about their meetings for the week and following up on the previous week’s pursuits. When it came time for one of the team members to update their manager on a meeting with a decision maker they were trying to schedule, the person admitted they were stuck and the key person they needed to approve the proposal was refusing to meet.
“They just don’t seem to feel there is value in getting together” the salesperson said in defeat.
Their sales manager asked if they had provided valuable reasons for the important decision maker to accept the meeting request. The salesperson had to admit they had not; they were just trying to get the meeting in order to have the contract signed.
Knowing this appeared to be the real reason the meeting was being refused, the salesperson was then asked what reasons of value they could now provide the prospect in order to win the appointment. The salesperson shrugged and said they couldn’t think of any.
If you can’t think of a valuable reason for a decision maker to meet with you, who can?
- Know the value you bring to every meeting with every person you meet.
- Treat every minute of the prospect’s time as a priceless treasure.
- Know exactly why a client should meet with you — every single time you get together.
I’m privileged to have been selected to speak at the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters convention in June, and this topic will definitely be on the agenda. If you want this discussion to happen at your sales conference as well — just let me know.