Salespeople invest time developing their “pitch,” formulating questions, and preparing responses to expected questions and objections from the prospect. They rehearse, refine, and rehearse some more.
Unfortunately, for some salespeople, the preparation becomes a roadblock to their success. How? The salesperson meets with the prospect and delivers his well-crafted well-rehearsed message. But, instead of paying attention to the prospect’s reactions, he is running through a mental checklist of important points to cover. He misses the look of puzzlement on the prospect’s face. He doesn’t notice the prospect casually glancing at phone messages.
At a strategic point in the presentation, the salesperson asks one of the preplanned “commitment” questions. Again, instead of focusing all his attention on the prospect’s answer, he is thinking about his response to an anticipated stall or objection. The meeting ends with the prospect promising to give the presentation some thought.
The salesperson deems the meeting a waste of time and blames the prospect for not paying attention…and not recognizing the obvious value he presented. He was so concerned about delivering his message as he rehearsed it, he missed the expression of skepticism on the prospect’s face. He never recognized the point when the prospect lost interest. He never had a chance to recover.
It’s OK to plan and rehearse your meeting. Practice, practice, practice until you have internalized the message you want to get across and the information you need to obtain—then, let it go. Sales meeting rarely go as imagined. After all, the prospect isn’t working from a script…and neither should you. If you’ve thoroughly internalized your information, you won’t have to worry about delivering it in a structured manner. You can direct your attention to your prospect and let the information flow based on the prospect’s interest and reactions.