[00:00:00] Luigi Prestinenzi: By the Sales IQ Network, this is the Sales IQ Podcast. I'm your host, Luigi Prestinenzi, and each week we'll be going on a journey that will inspire you, motivate you, and help you be the best sales professional you can be. Our focus will be on mindset, tactics, and the strategies that will enable you to create more pipeline, and win more deals.
Welcome to another episode of the sales IQ podcast. I'm delighted to have you back again for what will be another incredible episode. If you're a longtime listener, thank you for joining us on this journey. I create these content to help sales professionals be the very best they can be and other professionals as well.
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[00:02:23] Luigi Prestinenzi: Now this week, we have a different flavor. No guests, or actually, unless you say I'm a guest, so I am the guest today, but why am I this week's guest? Why am I going solo? Because I run a number of coaching programs are run a number of training events for, you know, hundreds and hundreds of salespeople each and every week across a variety of different industries all over the world.
And something that I've been talking about, which is really it's, it's really hitting home with a lot of sellers. And that's why I'm putting this particular topic together. It's the topic around that first meeting structure. And, you know, once you've earned the right to get a meeting with a new prospect, how do you actually formalize the structure and facilitate that first meeting so that you can get progression?
You can actually move that to other the next stage. And in some cases you actually qualify out. Right. But there was, I've just been receiving a lot of positive feedback on these topics. I thought, you know what, why don't I do a solo episode? Why don't I put two. A bit of a framework, a bit of a framework around the different stages that can enable you to, to not just run that at first meeting, but effectively help the buyer see you differently because in a world where there is so much choice for our buyers in a world where our prospects and our buyers have been inundated with people trying to sell them stuff, it's becoming harder and harder to different.
And we need to change the way elbows perceive us. Right? We know there's a trust gap. We know that research is telling us that buyers just don't trust sellers, right? Some reports 50, 60, 70%. The actual gap is quite wide, but in order for us to really influence and help our buyers through the process and help them arrive at a point of decision where they're confident in choosing us, we actually need them to see us as a trusted advisor.
Because, you know, we're not selling widgets for most of us listening to the show. We're not selling just a quick transaction with fundamentally selling China. We're helping buyers achieve an improved result that I'm buy what we do. They buy the outcome. We help them get. So if that's the type of sales process we're trying to execute.
If that's the type of vision we're trying to bring to life, we fundamentally have to change the way we position ourselves in the eye of the buyer. Because everything we do is based on the buyer, the buyer is at the center of our universe. But what's interesting, right? It's becoming harder for sellers to differentiate in a crowded marketplace.
But on the flip side, let's talk about this from the buyer's perspective as well. Data from Forrester actually noted their buyers are finding the buying process more. It's harder and harder, more complex than ever before. Some studies show that over 77% of buyers recently studied about or surveyed about this particular.
They actually said they last purchase was very difficult. It was very hard for them to arrive at a point of decision. Now, why is that? Right, because when you think of the buying journey, it's different, it's different today than what it was five years ago. And what it was 10 years ago, there are more senior decision makers involved in that buying committee.
It's not just about one person anymore. It's not even about two people. There's a buying committee involved in the process in. Cases 6, 9, 10, 11. People are getting involved in their buying journey. And just think about this. Getting consensus across that committee is actually hard. And you think about, if you go out for dinner with some mates or some friends or couples who wear whatever you got for dinner, just think about the difficulty that you have agreeing what to eat.
So imagine when you're spending 50, a hundred, a million dollars multi-million dollar project change project just. The complexities that that can create for a stakeholder group that all have different priorities, different needs and different motivations. And this is the thing, this is the thing we need to be considering when we're taking buyers through that journey.
Now, one of the things that we absolutely must consider when we're approaching organizations, we're not there in that first meeting, our objective is not to know what we should already know. A survey from vanilla soft, dear friends at Manila soft, they serve at over 2000 senior decision-makers 89% of respondents said they expected sellers to know their industry and know their business problems.
That's the minimum. So if we're walking into that first meeting with an expectation of we're going to learn what we should already have learned during the research. We're not going to be seen as that trusted advisor. So that's what today's episode is all about. How do we help our buyers navigate through the new buying journey?
It all starts in the way we open. It all starts in the way that we structure our initial engagement. So when you think about it, when you're prospecting, when you're out there conducting cold outreach, your outreach is not focused on what you do. Your outreach is focused on the outcomes that are post. To the buyer persona you're seeking to engage with.
And usually in that outreach, you're bringing a point of view, right? A point of view that piques their interest to want to know more. And the first meeting, it's all about you teaching them stuff, giving insight, delivering some form of value, creating value for them so that they want to continue the conversation.
So today I'm going to walk through that first meeting structure that will allow you to really unlock the buying journey and make it easier for you to create value and change the way the buyer perceives you. And so really want you to give some consideration and have a pen and paper. This is one of those sessions.
You should have a pen and paper, you could be drawing in front of you, that structure from the top, right through to the bottom. Now with most meetings, most meetings, shouldn't start with you running the agenda. First, the meeting should start with you doing the research. What do I mean by that? If we're rocking up, if we're arriving at a meeting, doesn't matter if it's virtual wealth or face-to-face, we have to be, have conducted every search first.
We've got to don't. We, we have to have, you know, how to look at not just their LinkedIn profile. But going on Google, there's a whole range of things that we should have done to understand our client and understand the industry they're in so that we can then develop our point of view for the meeting out, inside the insight that we're going to share.
So this is the first stage of the meeting. So we've done the pre-research we've come to the meeting. The very first step that we do is we essentially start with an agenda. We have to explain what we're going to be covering today. Right? We're dealing with professionals, we're dealing with, with people that are busy, that haven't got.
Just to waste meeting with salespeople who were there just to talk about them. So the very first thing we do is we lead with an agenda. I always lead with, why are we meeting? Why are we actually here? Right. What's in it for them. And how long do we have? Because for me that is critical. I need to sort of understand, do I have the same time that we agreed?
You know, before the call, that's what we have the how long. And then I have a bit of a check question. So it sounds a bit like this. The purpose of today's meeting is for me to share some insight with you around what's happening in a, B and C sector. Also, it'd be great to get a better understanding of what's happening in your business.
Um, and then maybe share a bit about how we help organizations like you achieve X result and we've got half an hour allocated. Was there anything else you wanted to cover today mr. Customer? It's a 30 to 45 second sort of agenda. It gives a very clear understanding of what we're going to cover. That I am going to ask him some questions, but I'm going to lead with some insight and value that they can walk away with regardless whether we continue our conversation.
And then I ask, was there anything else you wanted? Because I want them part of the process because one of the things that we need to remember, right? The discovery step, a lot of people say the discovery is, did it's, you know, discovery doesn't happen and you demonstrate et cetera, et cetera. And I'm sorry, but I don't agree with that. That viewpoint.
The reality is discovery's fundamental when we selling change, because we need to first understand what does the change need to look like for them? What does success look like for them? And then we need to identify, is that something we can help them achieve? And yes, discovery is not just one event it's happening throughout the entire sales process, but the very first initial meeting, they're also doing discovery on us.
They're also doing their own due diligence to see, is this a conversation they want to continue? Do they feel like they can trust us? And the other reason why we start with the agenda and then lead into right, our very first, our very first key, the value creation piece of the. Which is around the inside that we share, right?
We have to be delivering some sort of insight and learning because when we share that form of insight that we mentioned during an outreach call or email that we would be sharing in the first meeting, this is what enables us to build rapport. Right? It's crucial. It's not rapport where we're going to become friends.
I'm going to have a friend strategy. It's rapport by demonstrating paper. And expertise and an understanding of their industry when we lead with that level of insight and lead with that level of knowledge that we really do know them. And we really do know their industry for relationship tension drops, and we start to move into the zone of influence.
And that's when rapport, we actually have created rapport because there's a level of trust there. Like, you know, what, what this person is sharing with me is showing me. That they actually have some sort of competency in this area. They have a level of capability in this area. So the trust element is that there, the trust does get built.
Right. But I just want to go back a step because I'm talking about lady with that insight, that very first stage of value creation. But we also have to remember that depending on the lead origin, what do I mean by that late origin? Right? If it's an inbound lead and we've, you know, we've thought a book that ourselves or an SDR or BDR has booked it for us.
The actual first, one of the first questions that we should be asking after the agenda is the motivation question. We need to be understanding what has motivated them to reach out to us. What's motivated them for this particular topic to become a priority for them now, because if we don't understand the motivation behind their inquiry, Then we're not able to then create the right journey for them.
Right. Because we don't know, what's motivating them to buy. We don't know. What's sitting behind that motivation. Right. And we see this a lot. I see this a lot with call calibration sessions that salespeople people don't, they're not curious enough to learn what that motivation first is. So let's go back.
So the very first stage we've done the agenda. Second is we starting to share insight, right? Because that insight allows us, that point of view allows. To then demonstrate capability. Then once we've shared that insight, this then leads us to the first question. So we share insight, we create value through knowledge and sharing that insight.
And then we move into a question that allows us to open the conversation and identify an opportunity. And it sounds something like this. So once we've shared that insight, you know, we then move into, according to gardener, the industry is experiencing X Xchange. How are you preparing for those changes or something else that says, you know, Forrester research has identified three trends that are impacting your industry and causing a BC problem.
Which one do you see is the most important to your organization? And then the drill down is how is your old preparing for these changes, what we're doing with that, that insight and that, and that point of view, we are then using it to ask a question to open up the conversation to once we leverage that insight, once we then ask a question based on that insight and get them considering things I might not have considered, which is value creation, that then moves us into the third stage of the meeting structure, which is fundamentally that discovery stuff.
It's understanding, is there an actual problem that we could be discussing and we could be helping them solve? So that essentially allows you to seamlessly move into the discovery stage of the meeting and going a little bit deeper about what that would mean for them. What did the outcome that they are seeking to achieve?
What is the current state and what does it mean for them? If they're able to achieve a certain outcome. And this is where we have to come prepared with some thoughtful questions before we've got to be preparing our questions in advance, because essentially this is where the value is created. And if we don't come up with those questions before.
If we're not helping the prospect, if we're not asking really thoughtful questions and helping them identify an unrecognized need, we haven't created enough value. We need to help them consider something. They were, they weren't thinking about before meeting with them. It's the aha moment that they have, where they go.
You know what? It's a really great question because then they see you as a value creator. Then they start to see you as a trusted advisor. Somebody that's helping them consider things ahead and consider. And then we start to differentiate from the competition because we are being seen differently in the eyes of the.
So once we've asked some thoughtful questions and help the prospect see things differently, we started then open up. What that opportunity for change might look like. The next stage is confirming our understanding of what that change could look like and what the problem actually sounds like in the buyer's eyes, because that's the fourth stage we go through, we confirm.
And then once a prospect confirms the problem and agrees that the impact is worth discussing. We then talk a bit about how we help other companies like them fix that problem, which is the fifth stage. And I'm very permission-based, you know, thanks for sharing that with me. Would it be okay if I share how we've helped other organizations like you fix X problem.
And that's when we go in with a story, write a story or two. Now this is not like a 10 minute dialogue. This is not like a presentation. This is a simple two to three minutes. Share a story. It's not a massive pitch. It's a concise message. It also social proofs, what you're talking about, because you're talking about other people just like then them, and then from there we move to the next stage, which is actually talking to them about what next step sounds like.
Right? Because remember your buyer doesn't buy what you sell all the time. They don't exactly know what the process needs to be for them to make that change occur. Just like I said, at the start of this podcast, The buying journey is becoming very complex for our buyers. So we need to help them see what the next steps looks like.
And I saying something like, look, based on what you've shared, we can see that there is an opportunity for us to maybe scope this out further. What we usually see with clients like yourself, who do get to this stage is the next stage is a bit of a scoping session where we get other people involved in the process.
Sort of build out what the scope could look like and what the business case for change could be. Should we want to work on this right. Or something like that. Now this is not perfect dialogue. Right. But that's kind of the structure in the way that we help them wrap up and move that meeting to that next stage, which is scoping stage because we know as a sales professional, we know.
That there are other prospects. There are other stakeholders that need to be involved in that conversation, right. And if we're not helping them bring those stakeholders in early, then what we're doing is we're creating too much risk in the opportunity. Now have now arrived at that point where we've facilitated the whole meeting, we've got the next steps and there's a whole range of other things.
That we could be doing in that meeting the type of questions we ask past current future, but that wasn't the purpose of this episode today or today. I wanted to really walk you through what the meeting structure needs to look like. The meeting structure that will allow you to kind of unlock the opportunity.
Really. You know, I'm not talking about qualifying and qualifying out, because again, if you've done your ICP, which is your ideal customer profile, you've defined your persona and they have a problem that, you know, you can help. Then you've got product market. Fundamentally that is essentially qualify them further.
Right. Because nobody likes to be qualified out. Yeah. So there's, there's a, there's a step-by-step guide in how to run your first meeting. And I would love to hear your feedback on how the structure sounds and how you can apply. The structure in your role to help you progress more of those first meetings to qualified opportunities and beyond.
So I hope you found this episode valuable. I know it's a solo episode. I haven't got a guest talking about this, but just to give you some confidence, this is the exact meeting structure that I've used to close 10 50, a hundred million, 5 million, $10 million deals, right. I've used this exact meeting structure for a number of years.
To take that very first meeting to really open up what the opportunity could be the opportunity for change, because remember we're selling change, we're selling an outcome. We're not selling the current state. And in order to help really progress what that change looks like. We need to have a structure in place that helps us get more stakeholders involved so we can get consensus and we can get them talking about the business case for. So that then asking for budget is just a simple part of the process.
This show has been recorded remotely produced by Sales IQ Global, audio editing and music production by Stefan Malliate. Show notes by Victoria Mathieson and graphic design by Julie Marshall. Don't forget to leave a rating and review on your podcast player. And if you want to find more about the programs that we offer at Sales IQ, head to www.salesiqglobal.com
This episode was digitally transcribed.