We live in a rather political climate
where oftentimes we hear people say, “you took my comments out of context”.
Sales people have long been accused of taking clients comments out of context,
or vice versa, the sales person says their comments were taken out of context.
Why does this seem to happen frequently and how can it be avoided?
Sales meetings with clients can
sometimes be tricky. Each side has an agenda and sometimes will share just
enough to make their points. Sometimes too much information is shared. In
either case, making sure both sides have a mutual understanding of what is
expected as the outcome from the sales process is key, and it may require extra
effort beyond a conversation.
In past posts I have shared ideas on
documentation, especially in the form of email follow-up’s, which more times
than not works to solidify an understanding. Summarizing the conversation,
expectations, next steps, deliverables, etc. all can be covered in an email. It
is imperative that a sales person make this a requirement in their daily sales
I was recently asked by a few newer
sales people what to do when this approach may not be enough. There are times
when the conversations with a client are on the extreme side when it comes to
details, especially when you are selling an intangible service, and not a manufactured
product. A comment can quickly be taken out of context which may result in
misquoting the project/service or worse a loss of revenue.
In such cases where conversations can be
lengthy, very detailed, and require multiple steps to layout the “game plan”,
take others on the sales call with you, and also ask the client to bring others
into the conversations. Note taking is valuable throughout this process,
summarizing the notes afterward an absolute must, and open communication with
the client a necessity. When you have multiple people involved from both sides
of the table, summarizing eliminates the possibility of taking something out of
context. You enable many, instead of one, an opportunity for review, Q&A,
and feedback prior to the engagement.
Remember, asking others for help in the
sales process should not be viewed as a waste of their time, rather a time
savings for when the engagement begins post sale.