Early in my sales career, one scorching summer day, I found myself drenched in sweat, my shirt glued to my back, and a constricting tie around my neck.
My organization wanted me to speak with decision-makers, go out there and bring in large deals.
I was charged up to deliver and cement my position in the enterprise sales team.
So I decided, let me go ahead and meet up with a healthcare major, and call really high – I fixed up a meeting with one of their directors.
She was a very polite woman, she said, ‘Okay Venkat, I will give you 30 minutes”
I arrived at her office 10 minutes before the meeting.
Despite my initial discomfort from the heat outside, her spacious, air-conditioned office with its serene ambiance immediately put me at ease.
As we exchanged pleasantries, the conversation gradually shifted from casual to more business subjects.
She said, what do you do? That took me about five minutes to explain all about our company and our products.
Back in the day, we used to even carry a briefcase with brochures, imagine that now!
Anyway, I was waxing eloquent about all that we do.
However, her questions soon revealed my unpreparedness.
She said, enough about what you are saying, tell me, how will what you do show up in our business results?
I went blank. I didn’t know what to say.
She then said, what do you understand about our industry?
Again, a blank.
Finally, she said, how much do you know about our organization?
I was flustered.
Despite my initial confidence, I was unprepared to answer any of her meaningful questions – this required a completely different level of preparation.
I profusely apologized, saying I will come back better prepared.
I never called her back.
This experience was an eye-opener.
It highlighted the importance of diligent preparation before any customer interaction.
Since that day, my mantra has been: every customer meeting demands three parts preparation and one part execution.
You might believe you can wing customer meetings, but the real challenge lies in leaving a lasting impression.
Let’s unpack these 3 parts,
1.Understand Their Industry
Grasp the intricacies of the industry you are pitching to.
Know the challenges, trends, and potential areas of growth.
2.Familiarize Yourself with Their Organization
Dive into their organizational structure, KPIs, objectives, culture, and pain points.
3.Know the Individual
Understand the role of the person you are meeting.
Recognize their influence, their challenges, and how your product or service can assist them.
If you don’t prepare for all of this, it will be a disaster, at best, a polite disaster.
It is our responsibility to make our conversations distinct, differentiated and memorable for every customer.
You can also collaborate with colleagues who can yield valuable insights.
This approach, often termed ‘hunting as a pack’, allows for collective observation, drawing from diverse perspectives, and strengthening your pitch.
Lastly, always lean into fear and uncertainty. Such moments, although intimidating, can be transformative, unveiling your untapped potential and resilience.
If this was helpful,
Take the Deal Review Quiz
Drawing from our work with multiple Fortune 500 clients, It’ll give you the exact probability of winning your deal & highlight specific areas of risk and concern – in under 90 seconds.
Review Our Clients & Case Studies
We’ve coached the sales teams of Fortune 500 & 100 companies such as Microsoft, SAP and more.
Subscribe to the CXO Sales Playbook Newsletter.
Every Friday morning, I’ll email you 1 actionable tip to get your sales teams to overdeliver. (other benefits include a big bonus and company-wide recognition :).