As Published on Forbes.com
I’ve attended and spoken at countless sales conferences across multiple industries over the course of my career. Unfortunately, I see the same mistakes being made over and over at these events. Instead of driving performance, many sales conferences wind up being social gatherings with few actionable takeaways. The purpose of a sales conference should be to empower sales pros to achieve results, not merely entertain.
Most executives believe that product knowledge is important. Historically, businesses use sales kickoff meetings to share every last detail about their new features and benefits. So, at a three-day sales meeting, two and a half days are spent going over features and capabilities; one hour might be spent on sales tactics. The irony is that if you want results, it should be the other way around.
If the purpose of your sales event is to generate better results for the following year, then you should be focusing on the activities that will get you there. To capture the right attention you need to explain why people need your product.
Here’s an often overlooked truth: your #1 salesperson is often not the person who best understands all the features she’s selling; it’s almost always the person who best understands how customers make decisions.
If you want to have a successful sales conference that drives results, here are 5 things you should be covering at your next meeting.
What problems are clients experiencing that call for your solution?
I want you to put on your lab coat for a minute and imagine you’re a doctor whose patient needs a remedy for his ailment. Before you can prescribe a solution, though, you need to know and understand the presenting symptoms: what’s the problem, how long has the patient been exhibiting symptoms, what’s the degree of pain, etc? You wouldn’t prescribe penicillin to someone who’s not experiencing symptoms that call for penicillin. Similarly, in a sales context, you wouldn’t try to sell someone a feature or add-on whose problem doesn’t warrant that feature.
If you want your salespeople to be successful, show them the “symptoms” or issues they should be looking for that best match their solutions.
Who’s the type of person they should be talking to?
Define the ideal client for the newly launched product or service you’re rolling out. If they know who to target, they won’t waste time pursuing unqualified prospects.
How do your ideal customers describe their problems?
Make a list of the actual language customers use to describe their problems. What words and phrases do they use to express their frustrations. Have the sales people study those expressions so they know what message to use on sales calls.
For example, the person who is selling IT services to law firms shouldn’t be saying, “I sell IT services to law firms.” What they should be saying instead is, “Law firms come to us when they’re sick and tired of losing billable hours because their IT systems fail.” Why? Because their ideal customers are likely saying, “We’re sick and tired of losing billable hours because our IT systems don’t work, and it’s hurting our reputation.” That’s what their problem is; not: we need IT services.
When you understand your ideal clients’ language, you can improve your ability to connect with them.
What are the different objections customers might have?
Your company has introduced a new feature that can solve so many of your clients’ problems, but not all of them. Some customers are bound to raise objections. If you can help your salespeople anticipate those objections and role-play how to respond, they will feel prepared and confident to handle tense situations if they arise.
Where do they hang out?
If you know where your customers hang out, then you have a better chance of getting in front of them. But don’t stop there. Identify who else has relationships with your ideal customers and reach out to them.
It’s Your Turn
What would topics would you add to this list? Share your thoughts on Twitter, LinkedIn, or in the comments.