Sales professionals are continuously challenged to uncover customer needs so that they can offer them the best solution to those needs. This process can be quite daunting and inefficient, as sometimes the clients don’t know what they really need and as such need guidance.
3 Steps to Use at the Start of Business Meetings
After initially welcoming the client and having a cordial social interaction to break the ice, it is good to set a structure for the meeting to get the most out of it.
Here are 3 steps that will help you kick-off your next meeting:
Proposing an Agenda to guide the meeting
State Value to customer so that they understand what’s in it for them
Check for acceptance get a confirmation that you are both aligned
An example after following the above tips, you can start a meeting by saying:
I’d like for the next 5 minutes to understand more about your needs, then explain to you some of the our offerings, that would address your needs so you can have an informed decision about next steps, does that sound.
These tips would help you structure your next meeting so that you achieve the most out of it.
Uncover your Customer Needs
After opening a meeting and setting an agenda, then next aim is to uncover the client needs. You don’t have time to tell them about all your products, so first understand what their needs are and then you can tell them only about the products or solutions that meet those needs.
Use two questioning methods to uncover needs:
Open questions that give the client an opportunity to shed light and expand on the question area
Closed questions that force the client to give you a specific answer such as when a decision would be made
The aim of the questioning is to uncover the client’s circumstances and needs which would help you in suggesting the best solutions to their requirements.
Remember, listening is a much more effective skill than talking when in meetings.
Steps to Show your Understand of your Customer Needs
So that the client doesn’t end up doing the only talking and so you are able to ask more questions, you need to confirm to them that you understand their needs and have a solution for them.
Use the 3 steps to demonstrate that you have understood the client needs:
Acknowledge that you understand the need by restating it in your words
Describe your solution’s benefits focusing on the benefits and not features
Check for acceptance and watch the client’s body language to confirm that the client is in agreement with your solution
After you have clarified to the client that you have understood their need, and have a solution for that need, you can go back and ask another question to help you uncover some additional needs and thus up sell your products and services.
You can keep on questioning the client until you feel you have a good understanding of their needs and can then close the meeting.
Steps to Take when Finalizing a Client Meeting
It’s critical that we walk out of a meeting with a positive impression and a clear action plan for the way forward.
Here are 3 steps to use when ending a client meeting:
Review previously accepted benefits about your solution which were identified in the meeting
Propose next steps for you and customer with a clear action plan and timelines
Check for acceptance by asking: how does that sound?
As you return to your desk, plan to send a summary email outlining the above to confirm that no one forgets what was agreed on.