Direct Sales Meetings Like a Three-Act Play

Movie clapperboard

Meeting with prospective customers is like an opening night of a play — you're either going to make it or break it.

You've presented your pitch, answered all the questions and at the end of the meeting you're sure you clinched the deal. Then you find out the customer's turning you down for someone else. You've lost a sale to a prospective client you've cultivated for months.

Chances are, you made the classic mistake: losing control of the audience.

There's a better way to use your time and increase your closing percentage. Imagine that your sales meeting is a three-act play. As the lead actor, you need to command presence, control the situation and ensure that the curtain comes down to rousing applause. Here's a script:

Act I: Set the scene. Spend some time with the prospect. Building rapport is key to sales. When it's time to talk business, take charge and suggest an agenda. Start with a brief overview of your company and spend about three minutes emphasizing your capabilities.

Act II: Build the plot. Ask at least six prepared questions that prompt responses outlining the prospect's needs and goals. Let the potential customer spend 80% of the meeting talking. The more you listen, the better chance you have of getting the business. At this point, you also want to uncover any objections the prospect might have to doing business with your company — even if you bring them up.

Act III: Resolve the problem. Summarize the key needs unveiled with your questions and make sure the potential customer agrees with their importance. Present a solution and emphasize your ability to provide the necessary service. Set the path for an encore. This might involve preparing a formal proposal, setting up an additional meeting or closing the sale.

Remember, the audience is watching you. It's your job to be commanding and maintain presence. Follow this simple plan and you'll likely be in more hits than flops.

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