For Experts that Sell, A Surprising Key to an Effective Sales Meeting

key-sales-meetingsFor Experts that Sell, A Surprising Key to an Effective Sales Meeting

Experts, circa 2014, sell.  Are you a portfolio manager, consultant, lawyer, investment banker, engineer, architect, or estate planner?  As an expert, you are highly educated and credentialed and have deep industry and subject matter knowledge.  Though not in a typical sales role, you may be asked at times to participate on a sales call or pitch.  The request may be driven by clients who increasingly want to meet and gain comfort with the person who will be creating their portfolio, solution, deal structure, strategy, or design.  Or, the request may be driven by your firm, which has decided that your participation is essential to win the work.  Regardless of how you feel about selling, the comments below are designed to help you contribute to a winning sales effort when asked.

Among the highly accomplished experts I coach, one common misconception is that the purpose of a sales meeting is to prove your expertise.  There is no question buyers want to confirm what they learned about you from referral partners and their own research.  As an authority, it is easy to fall into the trap of doing most of the talking, focusing on yourself rather than the client, missing the opportunity to gain feedback, and — despite your intent or the reality — coming across as arrogant.

So, how do you avoid this?  To transform the discussion into an effective sales meeting, I have found that making one small adjustment in your mindset can lead to a significant impact on the meeting’s outcome.  That adjustment is humility.

That does not mean that clients expect you to be humble about your accomplishments or to dumb things down.  Humility, in the context of an effective sales meeting, is about recognizing not just what you know as a subject matter expert but also what you might not know about the client.  There is growing appreciation for humility as a leadership quality.  Look no further than Pope Francis — someone we could confidently call an expert —- and how quickly he has gained influence not just within the Catholic Church but as a world leader.

Consider how humility might change the way you prepare for and conduct an effective sales meeting:

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So, for that next sales meeting, consider sidestepping the common mistake experts make when selling, focusing only on your qualifications, your approach, and your ideas.  If you want to stand apart from the other experts waiting in the hallway, surprise the client with some humility to create an effective sales meeting.  How will you incorporate humility into your preparation and comments in order to walk away with the win?