OPINION

How to add real value to your sales meetings

Despite the bad reputation that sales professionals get sometimes, those who prepare well, bring the right subject matter experts and effectively facilitate a dialogue ultimately help to enable the provision of effective government services to citizens.

Yes - sales meetings do provide value.

It is a misperception that clients are not interested in meeting with sales people. Most understand that sales people are able to help them address challenges. Many times the ideas for additional efficiency, cost savings and enhanced mission delivery are new to the government participants.

And without a sales meeting, they would not understand the solutions available and the possibilities for technology application for effective government operations.

No doubt, the key to a successful discussion is preparation with laser focus on the point of view of the client participants. It is critical to understand ahead of time the participants' backgrounds and gather any information available about their points of view and the types of information they need.

For example, clients might want information on the different ways that various cloud service providers price their virtual machines or commercial best practices for service desk management. The days of one-way presentations are past (with the exception of formal oral presentations as an element of a procurement).

My experience has been that any time spent in a meeting should be framed by specific objectives, and all meetings deserve careful preparation and should result in valuable follow up. The objectives could include understanding specific product capabilities, possible approaches to implementing development opportunities, or pricing models that allow the government to compare “apples to apples.”

If a person who requests a meeting fails to bring something of value, a client understandably would not want to meet with him again. Meetings that waste clients’ time can significantly damage the reputation and brand of the organization that is being represented.

Sales executives who want to lead effective meetings should bring the right content and subject matter experts and should prepare those participants by providing an understanding of how they can provide value. These meetings are lynchpins to providing the information and industry perspective that clients need to effectively define requirements and contract structures for efficient and protest-free acquisitions.

About the Author

Lee Ann Anderson is the vice president for civilian sales at Unisys Federal Systems.

Reader Comments

Sun, Apr 12, 2015

"And without a sales meeting, they would not understand the solutions available and the possibilities for technology application for effective government operations." This assertion is patently unsupportable and insulting. Federal clients may need contractors, but many of them have the understanding to be "expert buyers" and users. They don't need sales people from a mainly hardware company to tell them about the possibilities for most, if not all, they want to buy. Federal clients would also benefit from meeting people in functions other than sales, e.g., people who design and deliver systems. Most Federal clients and contracting officers would tend to not want to meet with people who have "sales" in their titles and/or functions. The kind of meeting described would never take place.

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