Stop...Drop....Start Over!!

You there! Yes, you! Drop the mouse and back slowly away from the keyboard...hands where I can see 'em.

Sure, sure...I've heard it all before. You were just going about your business getting ready for one of those "sales calls" that your boss likes so much. You finally wore down that 29-year-old Media Sup to the point where she agreed to "get the team together" for a sit-down next week. And now you're making sure you're armed to the teeth and ready for battle. You're pasting the customer's logo onto the front of a hefty PowerPoint that has it all: company intro....partner logos....all your studies....even the obligatory Questions? slide at the end. You're even packing up a few gifts to make them all feel engaged and included: a little swag to grease the skids.

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But I just can't let you go through with it. I've seen this movie and I know how it ends. It's Fatal Attraction and you're Glenn Close; it's Thelma and Louise and you're both of them. In the name of all that's holy, stop now and start over again!

Too many of our sales calls end up with both parties simply falling into their assigned roles. Both the seller and buyer know they have to have a certain number of meetings, and they end up in the business equivalent of a bad blind date. You share the same space, make polite but disinterested conversation, and part with some vague talk of keeping in touch or sending something. It doesn't have to be this way.

What is the meeting going to be about? If you haven't proactively identified a business or marketing problem and centered your entire meeting on it, then you're simply another rep doing another "catch up" call who's hoping for some of their money.

What exactly to you want to happen? Write out the words of your closing "ask" before you walk in. If you don't know what you want to happen, you're certainly not going to get it. The right people might not even be in the room to give it to you. Any answers that include words like update, education or evangelism are just too soft and meaningless.

What are you telling them that they don't already know? If you're armed only with the information that the buyers themselves have given you, then you end up being another rep who's describing their own product, rather than one who's prepared to make something new happen.

Do you really need that PowerPoint? People really looked forward to seeing PowerPoint 1995. If you're seeking a real, genuine conversation, then a piece of paper with some observations about the account is a better bet.

How will you use the first 90 seconds of your time together? Sales calls have something in common with fistfights. How they begin goes a long way in determining how they will end. Hyper-awareness and presence right at the outset can change the entire character of a call.

If your sales calls are feeling less than fulfilling, look hard at your own approach. You just may be sleepwalking into mediocrity. You deserve better.

Before posting this week, I stopped myself. I looked back to 2014 and decided this post deserved a second airing. If it wasn't new to you, I hope it was a good reminder.