7 Strategies for Aligning Around Your Prospect’s Goals
I came across a scenario recently in which a sales team was feeling incredibly frustrated after a presentation to executive-level prospects went south.
Here’s what happened: The sales team, a group of high-level players, walked into the room prepared to give a presentation to management. But instead of giving the presentation they’d prepared, a technical employee on the prospect’s side dominated the conversation, forcing the team to answer a series of highly technical questions, the answers to which were irrelevant to the executives. The employee’s questions derailed the team. With the time they had left, they weren’t able to effectively communicate the big picture vision for the solution to the prospect. Instead, they wasted their time (and and the prospect’s time) communicating a message intended for a different audience.
I considered what the team could’ve done differently to prevent this situation from occurring. I wondered:
- Were the goals of the meeting clearly communicated and agreed?
- Was the opening session a review of the goals of the meeting?
- Did everyone agree on the goal of the meeting?
- Could someone on the sales team have refocused the presentation on the goal and requested a follow-up meeting to discuss the technical details?
In my experience, situations like these are always almost about a misalignment of goals. It is so important to align around your prospect’s goals, in every engagement you have with them. Making an intentional effort to stay aligned around your prospect’s goals throughout the sales process will not only save everyone involved time and frustration – it will also help you stay focused on what is valuable to your prospects, and will result in a stronger relationship. Here are seven actionable strategies to ensure that you stay aligned with your prospect’s goals throughout your engagement with them.
7 Strategies for Aligning Around Your Prospect’s Goals
Before the Meeting
Schedule a Discovery Call
Schedule an sales engineer-focused discovery call. This is time that the SE uses to gain information to focus the demo on the prospect’s needs. If you’re struggling to get the information you need during discovery calls, stay tuned for a post on how to ask better questions.
Follow up with a Champion Letter
After the initial SE discovery call, send a follow-up letter confirming the goals that you heard. To ensure alignment, ask for the prospect to confirm those goals.
Send Out a Comprehensive Meeting Invitation
Put thought into the way you create the meeting invite. At a minimum, change the title. Do not send a meeting invite with “GoToMtg” as the title! Ideally, you’ll change the title and provide a detailed description of the meeting, including what you believe to be your shared goals for the meeting. Attach your Demo Roadmap to the meeting invite so everyone has a clear understanding of what to expect.
During the Meeting
Provide a Summary of the Current Situation
Now that you’ve had an insightful discovery call and sent out a detailed meeting invite, you’re ready to start the meeting.
If you completed your Demo Roadmap, you’ll know to start by aligning around the starting point and destination: That means – you’ll start by sharing a summary of your understanding of your prospect’s current state, and where they would like to be (ideal state). Be sure to also align around the specific goals of the session you are about to begin.
If your prospects read all the emails and combed through the meeting invite, they will be on the exact same page as you. Unfortunately, odds are that your prospect has not read the emails and only showed up because their calendar told them to. If this is the case – keep reading.
Introduce the Meeting
Begin the meeting by reviewing and getting agreement on the goals. Yes, even if the prospects all seem to have read your emails – because odds are, some of them were not able to give you their full attention until right now.
Post the Goals on the Wall
During the meeting, make sure the goals are displayed somewhere in the room. If somebody tries to steer the conversation away from those goals, you can physically walk over to the “posted” goal and practice your facilitation skills to confirm that the rest of the room would like to delve into that area also.
Ask your sales team to help you refocus the group. This means coordinating beforehand and agreeing on who will take that role and how you will interact to show teamwork. Some roles you should agree on include:
- Who will keep the discussion focused around the posted goals?
- Who will offer to take questions after the meeting in case a Q&A becomes too technical or case-specific?
- Who will take notes on any changes to the goal the prospect expresses?
- Who will capture parking lot (follow up) items and make sure they get done?
You should also agree on which items will be best to demo at a later time, and how to handle questions regarding them if they come up.
After the Meeting
Throughout the sales process, continue to find opportunities to reiterate and re-confirm the goals. This will minimize any surprises at the end, and will help you eliminate prospects who are searching for capabilities not offered by your solution.
It’s in the best interest of both parties involved to stay aligned around goals. Reiterating the goals throughout the entire sales process will help you create a series of positive touch points that will turn into a positive (and lucrative) relationship. Keeping everyone on the same page will help eliminate friction caused by misunderstanding or miscommunication. Both sides are working towards the same end result, but it’s your job to create the path that will lead them to their ideal state. Do this by making a conscious effort to keep everyone aligned along the way.
Interested in getting professional sales coaching for yourself or your team? Learn more about my coaching services here.