By Phil Harwood
It happened at the conference room table at one of the world’s largest retail property management firms. I was there with my clients who were pursuing an opportunity to work with this management company even though it had been made clear to us prior to the meeting that there was no current opportunity to do so. The meeting began with the normal exchange of pleasantries followed by a brief overview of my client’s history and capabilities. What happened next blew my mind and led to closing a sale.
This was a meeting that never should have happened. There was no open RFP. The management company was not looking for new service providers. They were happy with their current lineup of providers - or at least that was what we were told numerous times prior to this meeting. Our pitch to gain the meeting was that it was the perfect time to meet since there was no active bid process. Without the pressure or restrictions imposed during an active RFP process, we could just get to know each other. They took the bait and agreed to meet.
I was there with two of my clients - the president of the company and the company controller. The property management company also had three people present for a total of 6 people at the table. This is a fairly normal-sized group but may be intimidating for some people not accustomed to presenting in group settings, especially in a high-stakes environment. My role was to lead the discussion so that my clients were able to relax, study the room, and interject when needed. I would do the bulk of the talking. That was the plan and we executed it perfectly.
After a robust presentation and discussion, the meeting seemed to be wrapping up. After all, the purpose of this meeting was to get to know each other and we had just spent the last hour doing just that with lots of talk about who we were, what we did, and how we did it. It was a great discussion centered on features and benefits. It was missing just one thing.
At the perfect moment, my client--the president of the company--straightened up in his chair and asked a question that caught everyone off guard: “Why are we here?”
There was a long period of silence. Then the most amazing thing happened. The real reason we were invited in to meet with them was revealed. They were having some issues with a current service provider but were hesitant to be that transparent with us. The current service provider was a long-time vendor and covered a huge multi-state region. It was a strategic relationship that they could not afford to place in jeopardy. After further discussion, it was decided to explore carving out a portion of the region to give to my clients. This resulted in a large sale, future growth, and a stable ongoing relationship that is still in place today.
There were many lessons learned that day. First, don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting, even if there is no current opportunity. In fact, this may be the best time to meet. Second, have a good plan going into a meeting like this with the right team and mindset. Third, don’t forget to ask the most important question of all - why!
If you are interested in learning more about sales techniques like this, be sure to register for our Sales Bootcamp, starting next week on Monday and running for two weeks, February 15-26. Hurry because space is limited and registration closes soon. Sign up here to get your whole team trained for only $89.
Now go forth.
Tags: Sales , Clients , Closing , Lessons ,