My frustrated new client exploded “Chala, I can’t believe the buyer cancelled another follow up meeting! It took me months to get these guys to give me a chance to do a product demo and now I have to go back to the drawing board to drum up another meeting! Where am I going wrong?” My client isn’t alone in his problem. In fact, only 38% of first meetings progress to the next one* if you could even get that first one. Cancelled meetings with decision makers are a huge and costly problem in B2B sales in general. Here’s how to hit back at this thorny problem and come out smiling.
We’ve Got That Thanks
The number one objection that businesses selling to other businesses get is ‘we’ve got that already’. Just like when my client Jody, the owner of a translation company approached new prospects. Upset about her lack of progress, she hired me to get through to the buyers of the corporations she was trying to meet. The first thing we did was to differentiate her positioning and message. Based on the research we did, we found that the niche of ‘other language translators’ (languages other than English and French) was a huge and untapped market that nobody was owning. In fact, my client’s firm translated these ‘other languages’ like Cantonese and Punjabi at a fraction of the time their competitors did. So the next time Jody called prospects, they couldn’t say ‘they had that already’ because she was now incredibly specialized and had something interesting to offer. Nobody cancels a meeting when you are differentiated versus your competitors.
Nobody Cancels on Sheryl Sandberg
Another important aspect of our marketing with Jody was to Sheryl Sandberg her. What do I mean by that? Sheryl is not only the COO of Facebook but also the author of the bestselling book Lean-In. For the past few years, she is all the media can talk about. She’s created non-profits, had her own TED Talk and is a widely recognized name all around the business community. I am willing to bet, no buyer-interested or not, would cancel a sales meeting with her. Why is that? Because she is a minor celebrity in her own circles. And that’s exactly what we do with clients when we Sheryl Sandberg them. We make them expert celebrities about their topic in a very specific world revolving around a single industry or interest group. We train our clients to speak at conferences, do to Executive Roundtables within industries, to write blogs and books about their topic of expertise. We make them look like they are celebrities. And remember, nobody cancels a meeting with a celebrity, even a minor one.
Then of course, there are the more pedestrian, less strategic ways to make sure those slippery buyers stay put in your scheduled meetings. Offer to bring lunch, or an industry trend report. Offer to do some sort of analysis for free on their business or on their competition and say you’re bringing that in. Bring some technology that’s new to the industry, whether you invented it or not, just get them to be excited about yet another meeting with a vendor. Also, don’t forget to nurture the buyer through email if appropriate and LinkedIn or Twitter updating them on what exciting things you’ll be doing or bringing to your meeting, building up anticipation in them.
If after all this, your buyer still cancels, well at least you knew that this truly wasn’t the best fit because they really didn’t value your expertise around the problem you solve. And believe me, no executive cancels a meeting where they think their biggest headache is going to be solved.
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Source: Altify, The Business Performance Benchmark Study 2017