I recently had a sales meeting that a salesperson scheduled with me from a cold call and it really did not go well so I thought it would be good to outline some of the key takeaways.

This is appointment is actually one that was mentioned in another blog post

Steps leading up to the meeting
As mentioned in the previous blog post, I thought the salesperson did a pretty good job of closing me on the appointment. Right after the cold call, he then sent me a calendar invite with a link to a virtual meeting room where we would meet at the scheduled time.

I really like this process of getting a calendar placeholder out to the prospect as soon as possible to secure time for the sales meeting and also using a virtual meeting room. It may sound like common sense or a “no brainer” but you would be surprised how many people do not do this.

Regarding the virtual meeting room, this is a good practice because you never know what number is going to be best for the prospect so this lets the prospect dial in from their preferred place and number.

The day before the sales meeting, the salesperson sent me an email reminding me of the meeting. This is a great best practice to implement as one of the biggest issues when setting appointments from cold calls is that the prospect doesn’t show up. This can help to decrease your “no-show” rate.

How the meeting went
The meeting started out OK but quickly headed in some bad directions:

Show up and throw up
After some brief chit-chat, the salesperson jumped right into a demo of his solution. This is what is often referred to as “show up and throw up” and means that you show up to a meeting with your prospect and you just jump right to showing all the features and details about your product and either doing that in an overwhelming way or not putting any attention on the prospect’s needs.

He did not know anything about me
One really bad misstep for this salesperson is that while he was showing me his solution, he really did not know anything about me and my needs. Without this knowledge, not only could he not really tailor his demo for me, but he really did not know if I even really needed his solution.

I was not a qualified prospect
He did not know much about me and if he did, he would have known that I really did not need his solution and as a result, I was not a qualified prospect.

When the salesperson scheduled the sales meeting during the cold call, he did ask me one qualifying question:

Caller: I am sure you use something like Competitor A or Competitor B.

Me: Yes, I use Competitor A.

This was a decent pre-qualifying question but this was all he asked and my answer to this question alone was not enough to qualify me for what he showed me in the sales meeting.

What was clear in his demo is that there are some single-user features for his solution and then there are also organizational features. And the salesperson was there to sell the organizational features that his product had to offer.

The problem with all of that is that I was only using Competitor A’s single-user features and I really did not have a need for either company’s organizational feature set. As a result, I was not a qualified prospect.

He wasted his time
The meeting lasted about 15 minutes before I cut him off to let him know that I really did not need what he had to offer. The main issue here is that we were so far from a fit that this person should never have scheduled this meeting with me and as a result, he wasted extremely valuable time on me.

How much time did he waste? He might have spent some time entering data about me and the meeting into his CRM, spent time sending out meeting requests and reminders, he might have spent time preparing for the meeting, and then spent 15 to 20 minutes meeting with me.

All of that adds up to extremely valuable time lost that he cannot get back. The time that he could have spent trying to find qualified prospects.

What he should have done differently
Here are a few things he could have done differently:

Pre-qualified during the cold call
He really should not have scheduled the sales meeting with me and to identify that early on, he could have simply asked me just a few more pre-qualifying questions during the cold call.

Regarding what questions would have helped, he was clearly trying to sell the organizational features of his solution so he should have asked me just a couple of questions to qualify me as fitting with those.

How big is your organization?
Do you use Competitor A to communicate with other members of your organization?
How often does your organization use Competitor A to transfer files?

By just asking a couple of questions like that, the salesperson would have known quickly that it would not be a good use of his time to schedule a sales meeting with me.

By also asking a few more pre-qualifying questions, he might also be able to tailor his demo to my needs and talk more specifically about what I need or how I do things.

Focused more on me during the first part of the meeting
Cold calls can be quick and sometimes you might not have time to get the key questions. If this happens, as it clearly did in this case, you can always spend the first part of the sales meeting asking the prospect questions to learn more about them and their current environment.

And even if you get all of your key pre-qualifying questions in during the cold call, you should still focus the first part of the meeting on the prospect to learn more about them. There will always be more that you can learn in terms of what is going on on their side and this is a great way to spend the first part of the sales meeting.

Again, not only does that allow you to tailor your meeting, but it is also a very nice gesture as you are focusing more on them before you take their time to talk about you.

Also, Read The Best Salesperson Asks the Best Questions