The Small Business and the Importance of Information

By April 23, 2014Blog

Small businesses of today are much different than just a few years ago.  With the relatively easy access of information any small business can be competitive against much larger businesses.  On the flip side, the larger businesses also have access to the same information, but they have armies of people analyzing the data.  This means that for your business to compete you must have some sort of competitive advantage.  This could be better products, better pricing, better service or a better level of preparation to win the business.  One commonality between the small business and the large business is both are competing for customer face time for a presentation or demo.   In many cases the larger business may already have advocates within the customer and may even be using their products, so when you do get the opportunity to present to the customer, you better be prepared.    That said, here are some thoughts surrounding the preparation cycle of deal pursuits.

Why did we get the Meeting?

  1. The customer is not completely satisfied with the competitor’s product, service, etc.
  2. They believe you have a better product.
  3. They are using you for pricing negotiations. (figure this out quick)
  4. They are just kicking the tires. (figure this out quick)

Meeting Secured

Ok, so you have secured your meeting, now what? Some of the basic To Do’s:

  1. Check out their web site and try to determine the key players.
  2. Check out your competitor’s web site.  I always review the customer and success stories pages.
  3. Check out LinkedIn to gather pre-meeting intelligence on the customer players as well as your connections that may have insight into the customer (The KiteDesk product works well for this).
  4. Since I use Salesforce I manage all my meetings and customer interactions natively using Meeting Mapper for Salesforce.
    1. I create the meeting.
    2. I schedule the meeting.
    3. I add meeting attendees (if a meeting attendee is not a contact in Salesforce I can add them to the meeting and Meeting Mapper will add them as a contact in Salesforce).
    4. I send out meeting invites.
    5. In the event one of the meeting attendees is a VP or C level, I will assign an executive sponsor to him or her so a relationship can be built outside of the opportunity with someone who can influence it.
    6. I create and send the meeting agenda.
    7. I modify the meeting attendee’s details (add their role if I know it, any notes about the person, initial Stance (For, Against, etc.).
    8. I add any notes and/or questions I want to cover in the meeting before hand in Meeting Mapper.
    9. Once this is completed, I’m ready to go and can move on to work more leads and opportunities.

Meeting Day

With all the preparation you completed it gives you the competitive advantage or at least puts you on a level playing field. Here is what the prep work does for you:

  1. Salesforce is updated just in case you can’t make the meeting and a replacement has to take over.  You should Never lose a deal because of personnel changes!
  2. You have agreement of the Goals and Objectives of the meeting – remember the invite and agenda you sent? The Goal and Objectives were included in both of them.
  3. You know the meeting attendees and have some basic knowledge of them (role, initial Stance, Social information).
  4. You already know some of the questions you want to ask to ensure you meet the Goal and Objectives of the meeting.
  5. You assigned an Executive Sponsor, so you are not going to be a complete stranger to any VP or C level execs.  The relationship has already started to build.
  6. The customer will notice and appreciate the preparation.   You won’t be the small competitor; you’ll be the prepared, nimble competitor who will do what it takes to win their business.

Post Meeting

Once the meeting is over all you have to do is update Salesforce with all of the important information that was gleaned from the meeting and send out the meeting notes to everyone.  By the way, this is the hardest part for any Sales Executive and this is why Salesforce is not used to its fullest potential.  Because I use Meeting Mapper, I just take notes as I would in any meeting, but I use the Meeting Mapper interface either natively in Salesforce or Salesforce1 or Meeting Mapper Mobile on my tablet.   This single input automatically feeds the entire Salesforce ecosystem.  From my meeting notes here is some of what is documented and stored in Salesforce.  This is the information that will give you the competitive advantage.

  1. Meeting Attendee information:
    1. Role – If you have a Champion role in the meeting – justify that role assignment based on your sales methodology.
    2. Stance – For, Against, Neutral:  If they are for, justify that designation.  “Happy Ears” is not a strategy.  This ensures your sales team is using your sales methodology consistently.
    3. Level of Participation (e.g. It’s not a good sign if the Decision Maker is Distracted)
    4. Next Steps or Action Items assigned
    5. Any individual Notes about this meeting attendee
    6. Were the Goal and Objectives Met?
    7. Public Notes – not all the notes in a meeting should be shared with the customer.  How many times have you sent meeting notes, just to say “I should have taken out that sentence”?
    8. Private Notes – Some notes are for the internal team’s consumption.
    9. Assigned Next Steps or Action Items.
    10. Specific subject matter is identified as hot or not for this customer.   This can be used to drive further focused conversations with the customer as well as providing relevant information to your marketing and product teams.
    11. All of this structured data is used to generate reports and dashboards that can be used not only by the individual responsible for the deal pursuit, but also by Sales Management to drive tactics and strategy.

Armed with this information, I can do Sales Forensics and build my strategy to win more deals and drive increased revenue. If you are interested I would be more than happy to show you the level of data and information I gather in all my meetings. In closing it’s not the size of your company, it’s the amount of information and data you have to build strategy.  I think you would be surprise just how big Point N Time Software is.

Your thoughts and feedback would be great.

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