You know that guy… You really can’t deliver what you sell without him. He’s the expert. He keeps the lights on. When your clients buy from you, they are really buying him… and sometimes you need to introduce him before you can close the deal. Unfortunately, he spends his time worrying about that thing that makes him so special, so he’s not really focused on what it takes to sell a deal…. nor does he typically think about how he says what he says – he just gets the job done.
In a few days, however, you are taking him out of his comfort zone, on a plane, and through the lobby doors of the client who could represent your biggest sale of the year. If this meeting is going to be successful, how you and your specialist prep over the next few days is crucial.
How can you ensure you leverage the expertise of specialists while aligning them with your sales objectives and plan?
1. Be very clear about your objective for bringing your specialist to the meeting.
- Is it to bring credibility to your offering? How? What does he need to say/ do that will make your deal more credible? What could he possibly say or do that could negatively impact your credibility?
- Is it to address a specific question or concern that the client has? Do you know how he will address the question or concern? Are you comfortable with that answer? Will your client understand it? What might be the follow-on questions or ramifications? Do you need to make any adjustments to your overall deal structure or win strategy to ensure that you account for the output of that discussion?
- Is it to present part of the solution? Have you seen what he plans to present? Will it resonate positively with your clients? Is it at the appropriate level of detail? Is it aligned with your win strategy? Does it address their decision criteria? Does it fit with the rest of the presentation? Can it be completed in the allocated amount of time?
- Is it because the client wants to meet the team that will implement or run what you are selling? What questions do you think they will ask him? Have you prepared him for these questions? Are you comfortable with his answers? Do his answers align with what you have been selling? If not, how do you plan to address the inconsistency?
2. Ensure that your specialist fully understands the opportunity.
In order to ensure that he doesn’t ask questions that have already been answered or goes down a path that is not relevant to the client, you should ensure that he has a clear picture of the client’s problem and the scope of the opportunity that you are trying to pitch.
3. Review your value proposition and win themes with him.
Make sure he knows how you have sold to the client in advance of this meeting. Be very prescriptive about how he can stay on message and support your win strategy. Remember that specialists don’t think in terms of value propositions, they tend to think more about implementation and managing risk. Be sure they are authentic in their presentation, but be careful that they stay aligned with your strategy and don’t scare your clients with too much discussion of risks and potential downsides to what is being sold. You should plan to explore all of this with them ahead of time so that you can be very specific about points they should promote and those they should avoid at this point in the sales process.
4. Provide detailed background on all client attendees.
The more you can brief him on their individual motivations, decision criteria, and concerns, the more you can help him to tailor his remarks. Be sure to alert him to any major hot buttons, and be very specific about discussion paths he should avoid in the meeting. Remember, relationship building may not be his strong suit, so he’ll probably feel more comfortable if you prescribe how he should interact with buyers, how he might align with selected participants, and potentially "risky" meeting attendees.
5. Ensure all meeting attendees are clear on roles they will play in the meeting… and REHEARSE.
Identify who will be leading/ orchestrating the meeting, who each of the presenters will be, and how questions will be addressed. Remember, you may have an idea of the best person to answer different types of questions, so you may want to think about who will intercept each question and direct different meeting attendees to answer. This is especially important if you feel like one or two people from your side could monopolize Q&A or potentially step into some land mines along the way.
Pre-meeting rehearsal may sound juvenile, but when you have participants who aren’t attending sales calls every day, rehearsal can be the difference between a successful meeting and a train wreck. It will increase the comfort level of these “infrequent sellers,” help them to sound more confident and on point during the meeting, and allow you to infuse some coaching that will better integrate their messages with the overall value proposition. Rehearsal can be a full dry run of the day (and should be, if there are multiple presenters) or it could just be a run through of the questions you predict your clients will ask. Either way, don’t skip this important step, and try to make it happen prior to breakfast at the hotel the day of the meeting.
Introducing “that guy” to your client at a critical juncture in the sales process can feel risky and uncomfortable, but it can also be the difference between a win and a loss. With the right preparation and alignment, however, you can increase everyone’s comfort level and sell more deals together. Who knows, everyone might learn a little along the way too!