What is the most difficult part of selling the products and services of your startup? Right, acquiring new prospects. By getting a foot in the door in a company, your chances of a successful sale increase dramatically. But how do you get in? And how do you position yourself and your startup with every meeting you have within that company? Karolien Selhorst asked Michael Humblet. Humblet is obsessed with designing, building, training and scaling sales machines and founder of Chaomatic, focused on accelerating revenue growth in B2B sales. Michael Humblet is also the host of the Sales Acceleration Show, a sales and marketing focussed Q&A show where he invites founders and CEO’s of companies to discuss how they accelerate their business, revenue acquisition and run their teams.
Speak the language of your contact person
In a company, there are two levels: the strategic and the operational level. But how do you approach people at those levels? Humblet: “People at the strategic level – for example, the CEO of a company – are focussed on only two things, either increasing revenue or lowering costs. So when you talk to them always keep in mind a long-term and strategic vision. Do not focus too much on details, because that brings up more questions. People at the operational level are concerned with the details. An insider’s tip: speak your contact person’s language. When having a meeting with a company’s CEO, focus on graphs and figures, because that is that person’s main concern.”
Sell to your contact person’s manager
“A sales meeting with someone at the operational level requires a totally different approach”, advises Michael. “A sales manager, for example, will think: my CEO has a brilliant idea, but he lacks the in-depth knowledge, which I do have. So he will mainly be interested in your product’s details. This requires that you master the details of your product. Moreover, you will have to convince him or her that you will make his daily work easier. My advice is: don’t sell to the person in front of you. First, try to find out what that person’s manager wants and make your contact person your ally or brand advocate so that he can sell your product to his manager. This requires that in every meeting you have within a company you get as much as information needed about the company’s needs. In this way, you can add real value to that company with your product or brand.”
Less is more: only send the information that adds value to the company
“Many salespeople make the mistake of sending their contact person too much information,” says Humblet. “It is better to send a short document or two slides that focus on the value proposition that is relevant for them. Your contact person can then send that information to his or her manager to impress him or her. The idea behind this is that your contact person becomes your inside advocate. Once you master that skill, you can get a foot in the door in any company.”
Turn your contact person into your brand ally
“After a sales meeting, I always send two emails to my contact person. The first one is very formal in which I thank her or him for this or her time and in which I sum up the essence of our meeting, stress the value proposition and I also give him or her an indication of the price. When writing that mail, keep in mind that your contact person can send it to his or her boss to impress him or her. The second mail you send is all about personal contact and offering value. In that mail you can enclose a screenshot or you can offer to give a free workshop etc.. The intention of those two emails is that you ‘find your shared secret’ with your contact person. With those emails you also demonstrate that you understand the company’s needs and that you can be formal, but also that you can be the ally that makes your contact person shine with his boss. That is an extremely powerful combination that hardly anyone uses.”
Don’t push, but offer value and be personal
“80 percent of all deals are closed between the fifth and the twelfth meeting. Especially within large companies, the decision process tends to be much longer and it may take up to 9 to 18 months before deals are closed. What do I do in that case? First I offer value and then I drive to the next action. That may be another meeting, another demo, meeting the team, meeting the decision makers in order to keep the wheel turning. You will soon notice that your prospects will spontaneously ask for more information. Once they do that, then you know that you are on the right track. In the main time, keep sending them information and always be personal.”
Sales is all about building personal relationships. Keep in mind that in sales people tend to buy from people they trust!
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