To get a potential client to sign faster, use a little marketing magic. Sure, marketing’s first job is to attract customers. But our second job is to support sales: to increase the number of customers who say yes, and to shorten the time between first contact and signing on the dotted line. Here is how to take a page out of our book.

  1. Listen First.

Last week, I sat in on a client’s sales call. I watched that smart leadership team sit a potential customer down and immediately proceed to bore her to tears with a 45-minute presentation of “capabilities”. No, no, no.

A sales meeting is a conversation. Good questions to ask:

  • “I know you’re busy. Why did you decide to take the time to talk to us today?”
  • “What would you like to get out of this discussion?”
  • “What problem are you hoping we can solve?”
  1. Come Prepared.

To have a productive conversation, you need to have an idea of who you’re talking to. It’s all right there at your fingertips on LinkedIn.

The easiest and fastest way to prep for a sales meeting: look up the LinkedIn profile of the people you’re meeting with. Read the LinkedIn company page. Skim the website. You can do this all in 30 minutes or less.

  1. Be Clear.

Give an example. Break it into situation, action, result. Talk about a client from a similar industry, or in a similar situation. Our all-time favorite finance manager won our business when she explained – in three sentences – what she’d done to make billing easier for another consulting firm. Sold.

  1. Don’t Give Up So Easily.

The most common reason for losing a sale is choosing not to follow up. No, we’re not advocating stalking your clients. It just takes more touches than you expect to close a deal. As in six to ten.

The easy way around this: schedule the next meeting or phone call at the end of the first one. Problem solved.

March 6, 2014