How do you successfully turn a 15 minute meeting commitment into enough time to have a successful customer conversation? Is it possible…and how so?

Recognize that you only got 15 minutes because of the customers perception of the value of having the meeting… and it’s possible your persistence may be the only reason you got the meeting at all! WHAT IF…just what if – concurrent with your meeting request – you were extremely skillful in giving the prospect a reason to believe that maybe – just maybe – you and your company could help them solve important business issues? You’d see a difference in the meeting-time allotted.

There are two issues at play here: First, you must be prepared to say or show something to ensure you get the meeting – even if it is 15 minutes. If your “evidence of value” is strong enough, you’ll get the meeting…and more time. Secondly, at the meeting, you’ll again need to say or show something that piques continued customer’s interest . Something that causes them to say – even if it’s to themselves- “maybe, just maybe if I spend more time with this individual, they could help us solve our challenges”. Till that happens, the customer is still in the 15 minute mindset.

That’s the first success factor. Now that you are actually having the conversation, get the focus on the customer – what are they trying to accomplish? What does it mean to them if they achieve or don’t achieve their goals. It’s way too early in the process for you to talk about solutions from your company. Never forget… you have nothing to sell until you fully understand the customer’s needs. Once the customer senses you are interested in – and searching for – actually discussing their issues, the meeting timeframe will continue. Begin to expect that if the conversation is going well (in the customers mind) time will not become an issue. Other meetings on the customers calendar get delayed. At minimum, you get asked back to continue the conversation – and with a committed and longer block of time.

Be strong with your preparation. Learn to deliver strong interest-creating conversation right up front – deliver the evidence! Give the customer reasons not only to talk with you, but continue to talk with you. Fifteen minutes can become an hour… and an hour can become three! Really! That vendor who got fifteen minutes initially, just left after a two-hour call – and now is viewed as a consultative salesperson.

Growth Development Associates, Inc. is a sales and business consulting firm that specializes in sales coaching and training. If you’re interested in learning how to graduate from being perceived as a vendor with your customers, sign up for a free overview course on consultative selling: 1001 Introduction to Consultative Selling.

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