Spice Up Your Meetings
by Ton Verleg
Preparing for a meeting with a potential customer, think about how you can spice this up in the sense that your stakeholder will actually do something after the meeting. How often do you have meetings and in the end, actually nothing happens? No one calls you back, no email, no request for a next meeting. What is the missing link?
The missing link between insightful conversations and closing meetings is called: Enabling Stakeholders.
“Enabling: making something possible or easier; to empower someone”Cambridge Dictionary
Enabling stakeholders is a powerful seller’s action going back as far as the Spice Trade era. Even then, market vendors in spice bazaars knew that decisions were not made by one person only. “Take a sample of this herb back home; you will see that your wife will like it” is probably a sentence used in those days over and over again.
Fast forward to the latter half of the last century: why do you think car dealers had all those glossy car catalogues to give to potential buyers? Once these were studied at the kitchen table with family members, the enthusiasm for a likely purchase increased. But, of course, now the most powerful enabler is the Internet.
The objective of enabling your stakeholder is to involve and influence others. Without this action, the chance of a next meeting or even the whole deal decreases. To close deals, you need more than one person to think like you and believe in your proposed change. Enabling is relatively easy, but it is, unfortunately, something that often gets forgotten.
Think about the following: When you leave the building after a meeting with a potential customer, what will the people you just met do? Do they continue with their daily tasks, or will they start to talk to other colleagues about the meeting you just had? How can you get them to talk about you and your ideas? The secret is finding a Change Champion. This person will act on your behalf when you are not there. Like the spice traders with their herbs and the car dealers with their brochures, you need someone to enthuse others.
Be on Their Team
How do you convince a stakeholder to become a Change Champion? To get such a commitment, it is best to make them feel you are on their team. As Anthony Iannarino said in his book “The Lost Art of Closing”:
“selling is not something you do to someone for your company’s benefit. Instead, selling is something you do for and with someone”.Anthony Iannarino
So, when you are having conversations with your stakeholder about change, see yourself as someone on their team. Someone who has ideas about how things can be done differently to benefit the growth of the company. Share data, research, insights, and stories to get your idea across. Discuss and verify the impact of not changing and opportunities to capture when changing. Ideally, while collaborating, your Change champion feels that some of the ideas about change are coming from them. Get your stakeholder’s opinion, and listen authentically. Does your stakeholder see the same risks and opportunities as you do? Then that person is a potential change champion.
The Forgotten Action
So, before closing meetings or hanging up the phone, think about this essential “new way of selling” action to success: Enabling a Change Champion. Ensure you provide the same data, research, articles, and stories, so they feel empowered to use these when involving and influencing other stakeholders. Then, agree on a subsequent meeting, ideally with your Change Champion and another stakeholder who is already involved and influenced by your Change Champion. Invite them to ask any questions and clarifications. This will set you up to help the customer move forward in their buying process, because you know how to spice up your meetings.Tags: Ton Verleg