Meeting tips

Why you need to stop asking this question in sales meetings

Recently I asked a group of people I was working with in an engineering firm what they think is one of the most overused sales questions of all time.

We were having a conversation about questions you can ask to unearth the other persons ‘challenges’, hopefully getting them to paint a picture of what is going on in their world, and where they might need some help.

They threw a few ideas at me, and eventually I put them all out of their misery and said that “One of the most overused questions in sales meetings is ‘what keeps you awake at night?” I then asked them “How many of you have used it recently?”. Amidst a bit of laughter, at least half the room put up their hands.

HALF the room are asking the exact same question of their clients. And you can be guaranteed that if they are asking it, at least 50% of all other sales people meeting with that same person are asking it too. Now, I don’t have any actual stats around whether this actually is one o [...]

How to Shape a Great Sales Conversation

What is the main skill that helps people build great rapport within minutes in any given situation, and particularly in a new business meeting? What is it that the best business leaders, salespeople or even rainmakers do that enables them to get what seems like instant engagement? It goes beyond their mere physical appearance or a sharp dress sense. While clothes may give you confidence they do not “maketh the man or woman”. What they all do is have a natural curiosity, and an ability with their questions so they don’t just learn and understand more about the other person, they actually start to develop and build trust.

Think about an occasion when you have first met someone and it’s gone really well, and you’ve genuinely wanted to see them again. In short you have clicked. The chances are they asked you questions which showed they were interested in you, your thoughts, and what you do. So are these people blessed with an intrinsic magic gift of great questioning sk [...]

Why you should never ask a CEO what their challenges are

By Keith Dugdale

People love asking about challenges in sales meetings.

In my many years of observing sales people, ‘What are your biggest challenges?’ would only be surpassed in popularity by an equally doomsday style question ‘What keeps you up at night?’.

Don’t get me wrong – asking about their challenges can be a very good question, and is certainly a better question than ‘what keeps you up at night?’ which has become as frequently used in sales meetings as Big Macs are seen in McDonalds. If you’ve built a level of trust with the other person before you ask it, it can definitely unearth a whole host of interesting information, and hopefully gives you an opportunity to give the other person lots of ideas about how they can tackle these challenges (and not just with your own product or service, of course).

But this doesn’t mean it’s a good question to ask everyone….and particularly to ask CEO’s.

If it can be suc [...]

For sales success, don’t put yourself in a box

By Ben Paul

The main aim of many salespeople and those tasked with bringing work into their organisations, is to make contact and then get meetings with the senior decision makers. This, for many, is one of the biggest challenges they face, and even if they get that meeting, they soon find that they have been passed down the prospective client organisation to someone less senior.

So what is it that means the Senior decision maker – often at the C-Suite (CEO, CFO etc) level, doesn’t want to give up their time to you? It could just be the box that you have put yourself in. Do you genuinely think:


5 great questions to ask to really understand your client’s business

I love the start of a new year. Not just because it always means I will be skiing in knee deep powder in Whistler, the best place in the world (which I am, hence the photo above just to rub it in), but because the beginning of a new year is the best time EVER to shift your client relationships.

Why? Because the new year gives you the perfect excuse to ask them all sorts of longer-term, big picture questions about what the year ahead holds – for them personally, for their team, their company, even their industry. And it’s these kinds of conversations that are going to show you’re interested in them and their world, not just what money they’re going to give you, which will potentially shift your relationships from technical, social or ad-hoc, to a true trusted relationship.

To really get to know and understand my client’s businesses, here are five questions that I will often ask:

  1. “In an ideal world, what will your business look like in 3 [...]

5 great things to say at the start of meetings with prospective clients

You’ve only ever got one chance to make a first impression (weird, huh). It doesn’t matter whether you’re going on a date, meeting the future in-laws, going for a job interview or meeting with a potential client for the first time – what you do and say in those first couple of minutes is absolutely critical.

Science tells us that it’s the non-verbals that have the most impact on first impressions (so smile, stand up straight and lean in when you talk), but what comes out of your mouth is next in the first impressions firing line so you’d better make it good. When meeting with a potential client, it’s the first fork in the road where your options are to either become a trusted advisor or a commoditised salesperson.

This is not to say you can’t recover from a bad beginning – you can, but you’ll have to work even harder as you’ve already undermined some trust. When I first met Kathryn (my Marketing Director, but she used to be my client) I was inadve [...]

Simon Sinek’s sales email: what would I change?

Simon Sinek recently posted a blog where he re-wrote a sales email he’d received from a guy called Chris Miles.

After this was published, I had a few people send it to me asking me if I agreed with Simon or if I would have rewritten Chris’ email in a different way. Put simply, I think Simon’s email is 1000% better than Chris’ original version. But I still think it could be even more Simon-centric, and less self-oriented towards Quickbooks.

Here is Chris’ original email to Simon:

My name is Chris Miles and I am the CEO of Miles Technologies, a full-service information technology and computer services company. We provide IT and software solutions that help organizations like yours to radically cut costs and become more efficient, productive, and profitable.

Besides providing innovative IT services, Mil [...]

How I achieved an 85% success rate getting meetings with new prospects in France: a multicultural case study of the business of trust.

Julien Lepetit

By Julien Lepetit.

Approximately three years ago, I was introduced to Keith Dugdale’s Smarter Selling approach. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 500 professional services firm and held commercial responsibilities in my technical market.

It all instantly made sense to me. It was aligned with the intuitive approach to business I had taken for the past ten years – it comforted me in my views and cemented my perception of how to successfully do [...]

What should you do after a meeting to maintain engagement with your client?

So you’ve just finished a great meeting with a new client or prospect. But as you walk out the door you think to yourself – what do I do now to deepen the relationship and not fall into sales pitch mode?

Most people will head back to their desk and write a thank you note, maybe send some minutes. If there were actions that came out of the meeting, you might spend some time doing those and sending them through. These are all OK things to do, but the problem is it’s not engaging in any way for the other person – in fact, you’ll probably be lucky to get much of a response, if you get one at all. It just won’t help you advance the relationship in any meaningful way.

Some may even feel compelled to send a brochure of some sort, which could destroy all the hard work you put into building the relationship with one press of a button.

So what’s the answer? To me, it’s using a CC (Clarify & Confirm) Note.

A CC Note is one of the most bas [...]

How to respond when you’re asked ‘What makes you different?’

It’s one question we all dread getting asked. You’re talking with a prospective client and then they pause, look at you thoughtfully and ask ‘So, what makes you different?’

What do you say?

In the moment it’s easy to start rattling off a list of features (we’re the biggest, we’re the best at), but there are much better ways to answer this question that are going to have a more powerful impact, and make the person you’re talking to engage with you now or want to speak with you again. What comes out of your mouth next could determine your entire future with this client.

In mind, how you answer depends on the situation you’re in.

At the beginning of a meeting
If the question gets asked at the beginning of a meeting, the most impactful response is ‘Well, my view is probably a little biased, so I’m hoping by the end of this meeting that you’ll be in the best position to answer that. Are you okay if we revisit [...]