A lesson we could all learn

by nyk24
19 replies
This morning I had a meeting with a local business owner.

Before the meeting I was confident that I might close this deal as the owner advertised on the local radio, on taxis and on the front of the local newspaper, so had money to spend.

I was hoping to be able to get the owner to open up and do all the talking while I attentively listened. Instead I went into a room with the owner and several of his senior staff and it was made clear I was to pitch to them (not my strongest point).

I went through my speech in a jargon free manor answered tough interview style questions from everyone quite well until one of the senior managers tried to dismiss my whole service as defunct! He said business abc ltd might be top for blue widgets but they weren't doing very well.

I naturally gave a great response which surprised myself even but you know the sort who don't want your service even if you make their fears sound irrational just wasn't having any of it.

BTW the keyword he was on about got over 4000 visitors last month according to google.lol

Anyway my point is as briefly touched upon on this board in the past is this:

As soon as you have more than one decision maker in a deal then it becomes very hard to closeas you have differing opinions. In my case....4 decision makers...one them clueless about the internet the other one thinks he knows it all.

Sorrry for the rant guys just thought you should know just in case you ever get put in this sticky situation.

On a slightly good note the owner did say is there room for negotiation and I said yes and as we know that's a buying signal but I am sure this know it all has put a spanner in the works which is such a shame as I truly believe I could have helped their business grow....oh well their loss.lol

If I do get any feedback or a response then I will put it on here...they said they would call back either way but we both know that's just bs lol
#learn #lesson
  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    There are several tricks to pitching a board room.
    It is NOT like reg sales, even though all the normal sales tactic's
    apply, and need to be used.

    Its unfortunate that you you were thrown under the buss like that,
    on the other hand, it was extremely lucky to get in front of them...

    Most times you don't get that far, and some boards only meet once
    a month or so.

    "On a slightly good note the owner did say is there room for negotiation"

    Did you get his extension?, that's your man, without bugging him, you need to find out
    excatly what he is thinking, and then try your best to work things out so HE is happy
    and applies the trickle down effect.

    Did you record your meeting? if you did, and you know the guys who were agiant it
    or had objections, some friendly emails, clearly answering the objections
    plus a thank you note, or basket of fruit / booze, will go a long way.

    Board room sales are long term commitments... they are not a slam bam thank you mam

    With that said, if you plan on going this route, let us know, and we can help you out some
    if this was just a one time thing... too much to learn, just let it go for now.
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    • Profile picture of the author nyk24
      Originally Posted by kenmichaels View Post

      There are several tricks to pitching a board room.
      It is NOT like reg sales, even though all the normal sales tactic's
      apply, and need to be used.

      Its unfortunate that you you were thrown under the buss like that,
      on the other hand, it was extremely lucky to get in front of them...

      Most times you don't get that far, and some boards only meet once
      a month or so.

      "On a slightly good note the owner did say is there room for negotiation"

      Did you get his extension?, that's your man, without bugging him, you need to find out
      excatly what he is thinking, and then try your best to work things out so HE is happy
      and applies the trickle down effect.

      Did you record your meeting? if you did, and you know the guys who were agiant it
      or had objections, some friendly emails, clearly answering the objections
      plus a thank you note, or basket of fruit / booze, will go a long way.

      Board room sales are long term commitments... they are not a slam bam thank you mam

      With that said, if you plan on going this route, let us know, and we can help you out some
      if this was just a one time thing... too much to learn, just let it go for now.
      Thanks kenmichaels I was feeling a bit sorry for myself until I read your post...thanks.

      The meeting was a bit more informal than a board room....it was held in a small office above a club and there were only about 6 of us in total. The owner is very down to earth nice guy and if it was just him and me in the room I know today would have been a better outcome.

      Reading your post made me think your right I should give the owner a call tomorrow on his cell phone to thank him for the productive meeting and try and find a couple of extra reasons to convince him yes he should be number one on google.

      I am also ranking a couple of videos for "seo town a" and "seo town b" that I am hoping will be number one by the weekend. Normally that would impress anyone but would it impress the owner and his management especially if I could prove to them (through youtube upload date) how quick it took?

      This may ease their fear on time scales and upfront costs?

      How do I rebuttal on the phone to the owner that abc ltd is number 1 for widgets blue but trading wise is doing badly?

      At the meeting my original rebuttal was that page one of google was a virtual high street and abc ltd was like the charity shop on the high street....in a great position but not appealing to most folks. They must either have a bad brand, bad reputaton or just bad marketing.

      The owners company is doing well but could be better, has a good reputation and tries every form of local marketing so not sure what to say apart from you gave local advertising a go...why not give me a go...tell me what would make you happy to close today?
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  • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
    On a slightly good note the owner did say is there room for negotiation and I said yes and as we know that's a buying signal

    You're right. He's ready to buy, but he wants to knock your price down as far as possible. That ambush was his first strike.

    He will have one of his minions call you next week if you don't call him first. But you should call him first and ask for the order at the same price you started with.
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  • Profile picture of the author deepestblue
    This reminds me of the book "Pitch Anything" by Oren Klaff (an OUTSTANDING read for this kind of stuff). Basically the room owned the frame by putting you into the pitch mode. I applaud your efforts to have the guts to push through with the grilling questions they were asking you, many people would cower in that situation. Well done and every experience makes us stronger for the next one!
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    • Profile picture of the author Magman
      Originally Posted by deepestblue View Post

      This reminds me of the book "Pitch Anything" by Oren Klaff (an OUTSTANDING read for this kind of stuff). Basically the room owned the frame by putting you into the pitch mode. I applaud your efforts to have the guts to push through with the grilling questions they were asking you, many people would cower in that situation. Well done and every experience makes us stronger for the next one!
      Great book. Highly recommend it. Buy it on Kindle for about $10.

      Good to read now while your pitch is fresh in your mind.
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Ten
    Wow. It sounds like you dealt with a tough situation quite gracefully.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    When dealing with a group, throw the presentation away for now. Start with the person who you think is the most receptive, and ask them:

    "From where you sit, what's the most important thing about _____?"

    Write it down on the easel board.

    Continue going around the table and asking each person.

    Once they all have contributed, you can address how what you do meets all of their needs.

    How many other salespeople are going to take the time to do this?
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    • Profile picture of the author nyk24
      wow guys thanks for the support and advice if I had the money I would fly you all over to the uk business class of course lol to act as my advisers hehe.

      Ive just remembered the owner mentioned something about if I would do this for his competitors I assured him that it wouldn't be in either of our interests and that I only did one niche at a time.

      Should I threaten to take my pitch to another competitor? I do have a contact with another competitor and I am sure they would at least see me as they already do full blown billboard advertising on the high street on a regular basis.

      How would you wise warriors handle a thank you for having me call if you were to call the owner tomorrow?
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  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    Yes ask questions as Jason says.

    And I would also ask the person who is jabbing at you the most.

    You want to work out where he's coming from.

    But the person I'd ask the most questions of is the owner....ultimately if he's onside then you're getting hired.


    Also stop worrying so much about the details...this rebuttal...that rebuttal.

    For a business it's a value proposition.

    If they can see that you're going to make more money for them than you'll charge in fees then they're crazy not to hire you.

    That's really all you have to establish...how an idea they're interested in that you suggest will make them more money than you're going to charge them to implement it.

    Don't start arguing over minor BS.

    Arguing doesn't get you anywhere anyway.

    At some point some idiots in the sales profession started teaching that you have to overcome or conquer your prospects.

    We're consultants...we need our clients onside working with us as openly and honestly as possible.

    We're working with people to help them achieve goals they wouldn't achieve without us.

    We don't have to dominate people or come up with some clever phrase.

    They need to trust you and your advice...not think you're constantly trying to sell them the next thing they probably don't need.

    It's better to think of these people as close friends. What would you tell your friends? How would you deal with them?

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author TrumpiaTim
    Seems like the true lesson is to be prepared for anything when walking into a prospects doors.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    A couple things from the "other side"

    1. Never assume who is the decision maker. All these people are in the room for a reason. And unless you have a mole in the company you have no idea who will make the decision. It may be the group or it may be one person. Hell the "decision" maker might not even be who you have to win over. Maybe he has a trusted adviser. You sell the "decision maker" but piss off the adviser and what does the adviser do? "I agree that we need _______ but I don't know about this guy. Give me a bit to find someone better to handle it for us." That happens and you will be out and another firm will be in. Never ever make assumptions on who should be sold. Sell them all.... or better yet get them all to sell themselves.

    2. Never change your game plan. I don't care if there are 12 people in the room. Stick to your plan. If you want them to do all the talking get them talking. If you are closing other clients you know it works. Stick to it.

    3. Learn to spot the "leader" in the group. This person may or may not be the decision maker but when he or she is positively interacting with you the others will follow. In my years of selling I can tell you this, never assume who it is. Some sales professionals say it is the wife always. Others base it on the product. Kitchen is the wife, car is the husband, etc etc. Never assume, learn to read people and you will know. Hell I've sold $50k campers and focus on the 10 year old because you could tell he was the leader of the group. Once he was won over the parents followed his lead.

    4. The more you win over the better. Always assume it is an election and you need 80% of the vote. You get 4 out of 5 on board and you will likely close them. Once you have the "leader" on board you should have 50%+ of the room going with him. Just human nature to follow the leader.

    5. Assume they will need to talk it over. So finish early. Why? So you can excuse yourself. "Why don't I let you have a few moments to discuss what we have went over today. That way as a group you can decide on any other questions you would like to ask while I am here. If that sounds good I will just step out for a few." If they want your service they will do one of two things here. 1. The decision maker will stop you and get into buying mode. 2. They will let you step out and will discuss it. Remember when you come back in be ready to close. If they wrap it up without you leaving the room it's not a for sure no but IMO it is a bad sign. Remember if this group is serious they will want to discuss it. And giving them a chance to do it while you are still there will always help you. And use your time outside of the meeting wisely. Chat with the receptionist or similar staff members. You may learn a bit about the people so when you go back in you know who is who. Every bit of info you know on your prospect is more ammo for you. VP of sales loves Corvettes? You own a Corvette? Bring it up. "You're John right?" Yes "I was talking to Betty while you were talking in here. She told me a bit about your Vette. I have an 05. What year is yours? Betty wasn't sure." Corvettes are my thing. It could be a sports team or anything. Commonality is always great. Remember this tip is great before you go in as well but after talking with them you know them a bit so it is easier to learn about them from the receptionist now.

    6. Be ready to walk away. In sales the buyer always has power to walk away. The one selling has the same power but is afraid to use it. If you built value they will want to buy. You can get the price you want by not being afraid to walk away. If more sales people used this they would win more sales. If the buyer walks from the deal and you keep pulling him back you lose power. "Prospect A we set our prices to be fair and competitive. We under promise and over deliver to make sure our clients are beyond just satisfied. While we hope you see the value I understand if our service does not fit your marketing budget at this time. Once again thank you for your time. Does anyone have further questions? If not shall we wrap this up?" Word it based on what works for you but show them your time and service is valuable. If price concessions are really what they want to close they will not let you leave and will put out an offer close to your price. If price isn't the issue and they are truly sold they will buy today or tomorrow. Just remember the one who isn't afraid to walk away holds the power.

    Finally selling is about reading people. If you are good at it keep selling. If not hire someone. And when you interview them let them do the talking. Get them to reverse the interview. You'll be able to see how well they read you and how well they sell themselves. Someone who can't sell themselves and can't read you won't be able to sell your services. Interviewing for sales is the easiest job to interview for. Just hire the candidate that sold you on them. Also always schedule 30 mins or an hour but at least double the time available. If you tell the candidate it will be a 45 min interview leave a 2 hour window. If the candidate can fill the time and get you talking he will be able to do the same with clients. Remember the one buying dictates how long it will take to sell them. If it takes 5 mins to sell them they need to be ready to do it. If it takes 2 hours they need to be ready. Never hire a sales person who "wraps" up for you. He will do the same to clients, I normally don't hire anyone unless their interview takes me 90 mins plus. I like to get a feel for who the person really is and how they handle normal conversation. Plus you'll be surprised what people reveal when interviews go long. I've had people reveal DUIs and similar just mins before I was ready to end the interview. If the conversation is flowing keep it going.
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  • Profile picture of the author EnzoBlaque
    This is a typical problem some people face when dealing with a "group" of owners. Naturally, they seem to feed off of each other and then this leads to them treating you like one of their employees - hence the interview style questions they were throwing at you.

    The best way to tackle meetings like these is to 'LEAD' from the get go. You have to be the one to kick things off.. Start of by asking them - "Where is your busines now, and where do you want it to be in five years". Owners love talking about their own company and the visions they have for it. This tactic is basically giving you the ammunition you need to close yourself a deal because they are telling you what their dreams are.. You now need to base your sales pitch around this dream..

    For example, they say - "within a years time, I want to see a 20% increase on profits" you then say "Well increased visibility on Google often guarantees an increase on profits by XX%, and improvements can be seen in the space of 3 - 6 months"

    You have to know exactly what it is they want before you begin your pitch. So, for your next meeting, plan a series of questions to draw out what their goals are. Once you have these questions prepared, you'll have a strongler leg to stand on during any meeting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    @Aaron that was rockin'!

    You bring to mind another point.

    I work with the DISC profile, which divides people into one of four types. Each type wants to be communicated with in a different way. For example, the high C's want lots of data; however, if you give that same deluge of data to a high D or I, you'll bore and scare them off. And the high I's want to know how your solution affects people--but talk to a C or D about that and their eyes will roll back in their skulls and they'll nice you out the door.

    So when presenting to a group, discern which type each person is, and sell to them the way they want to be sold to.

    "Is there any info you'd like me to share that I haven't touched on?"
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    • Profile picture of the author nyk24
      I think some of the replies are very interesting thanks guys.

      What I have gleamed is you have to cut your cloth to suit the ocassion and the personalitied involved. I think I achieved that. I managed to keep the pitch jargon free so that even a monkey could understand and I cracked a couple of jokes which were in keeping with the mood.

      I really did want to take control of the meeting as I had questions I wanted to ask the owner. Luckily I had a presentation folder for the owner which I used as my pitch.

      I left the presentation folder with the owner which included some data on the amount of traffic certain keywords would get. One of the main keywords was searched by 4000 people a month.

      How can someone reading that disagree (if they do) that having around 2000 (about half) of those visitors to their site every month isn't going to be good for business?

      The only true objection I can think of is trust and cost. Ive got the trust part as the owners friend has known me since I could walk!

      Cost I am happy to negotiate and if all is well in 3 months time put the price up lol

      He may secretly think,"yes he's right about the numbers but can I get this done elsewhere from a bigger and better well known firm than a small individual?"

      I don't really have an answer for that except I am number 9 for seo firms in a neighbouring small town and hope to be number 1 soon for his town and the neighbouring town


      I plan to ring the owner up on Monday to see how far along from a decision he is.

      Are there any other objections or excuses I should be prepared for?
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  • Profile picture of the author Gotham
    Seriously, few people would've had your presence of mind.
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  • Profile picture of the author therealtiger
    Hey don't lose hopes. There are some folks always who thinks they know more than us but the in reality they don't know how much can we help them. Yes itz preety hard to get a deal with 4 decision makes siting in front but give your best and leave the rest on them as you did here. I hope they call you.
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  • Profile picture of the author AMABIZ
    sounds like a classic story of too many chiefs
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    • Profile picture of the author Sue Bruce
      Its a law of nature. One bad apple spoils the bunch. however you dont know for sure if he did. Most senior managers got their position by figuring out the companiy's system and weaknesses, not through intelligence in all areas.

      The owner let you walk in blind to a company posse. Its either a very large company or he doesn't trust his own opinion.

      My guess is the latter.

      Selling to groups is a disaster even if the owner gives you the courtesy of letting you know beforehand. The larger the group, the more problematic it will become.

      Any meeting I walked into like this, I addressed the owner with the reply to each concern. Why? If you know your facts, figures and are confident, you can make mush out of the ridiculous questions the rest of the group asks.

      It only takes practice and experience.
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  • Profile picture of the author vgvetter
    Good story...

    Sold industrial systems face to face for 40 years, and will second the motion for the points Arron discussed above.

    If your bringing him 4000 visitors a month, it has to impact his business.

    Here's a thought. If you haven't already done so, incorporate something in your package that gives him a means of tracking business from the website. 5% off, coupons, free something, whatever. Your site is probably costing him less than the radio advertising, and if he's aware of its value, it sells itself.

    Look forward to learning the outcome.

    Vern
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