I go on a lot of first meetings. To quantify the amount would probably involve some form of post on LinkedIn that only PhD math Geniuses could get right, or some guy in Rec2Rec with a GCSE in Food Tech (No offence guys, you know I love you really.) Most of these meetings are Client related and involve me listening and talking. However I never go in with a written plan of where I want the meeting to go. The recruitment trainers from those “structured” agencies are probably spitting out their Protein Shakes in disgust right now. But hey I don’t know what the Client is going to tell me, how about I find out what the hell they want then adapt and come up with a plan after the meeting.
Anyway… So lots of meetings, but recently I have been the client… (I actually prefer not to be the client, especially when they are stingy with the expenses.)
I am always happy to meet and chat with someone that offers a unique pitch and genuinely has done their homework and has a vague gist of my personality and what I actually need. I will then fill in the blanks. I even do pity meetings occasionally if an approach is absolutely terrible but they have been in the industry a short time and look like they could use a KPI win.
Now when I get to the meeting I start looking for triggers, and try to work out their style (Selling to a sales person is like a game of chess played by Jimmy and Timmy from Southpark.) I will then tell them about me and the business. In this little diatribe I explain what makes me and the business different (or at least what I think it is.) This is where I lay not so subtle hints about how they should sell to me. I then see if they adapt or stick to script. 9/10 times I get the script.
They have their faux leather notepad out, their munched on Bic pen and a list of questions and points they are running through like clockwork. Half them being irrelevant after my opening comments. I am starting to switch off, and wondering if what I am drinking can be classed as a Flat White (Microbubbles) or a Latte (Warm Milk.) They are still talking at me, and selling their business, not them, their business. I think they may have mentioned money at some point. By this time I have realised it was actually an Americano, and mentally working through the ingredients in my fridge deciding what’s for dinner.
It’s not like I don’t want to be sold to, If you fill a void in my work/life with your solution then I am a happy bunny. But if you are trying to force the product down my throat then I will probably thank you for my coffee and say my goodbyes.
If its a Rec2Rec I can happily agree terms, and you will send me a bunch of CV’s that are not relevant. I will reply within 10 minutes explaining in great depth what is wrong with them, they will argue, maybe they might try again, same thing will happen. Then they give up. You got a meeting and 20% agreed but you didn’t get a deal as you didn’t engage with me or actually understand whats not written on the spec.
A lot of people will say the best skill in sales is being able to listen. Some people take that as asking lots of open questions but not really listening. How about you dispense with the 101 sales questions and you just have a conversation.
I throw out some actually ridiculous comments now and then, purely to see if the seller reacts or just plows on.
If you want to make a good first impression:
Don’t sell your company, sell you.
React and adapt to the conversation don’t try and steer it back to your agenda (I like to go off on tangents and use weird analogies.)
You know what they say about assuming…
Don’t try and act like your selling a time share for 30 minutes, then go “Sooo uh… what do you like to do in your spare-time?”
Buy me a beer.
Tim Chattaway – The Hamster was like that when I got here.