The Rules for Your Sales Ride-Along

Tom, an experienced salesperson, was invited to his prospect’s corporate headquarters for a meeting. When Tom told his company president, Bill suggested that they go together. “I’ll follow your lead,” Bill assured Tom.

When Tom and Bill arrived at the meeting, Bill introduced himself and started the meeting with “We work with companies like yours all the time.” Tom walked through a presentation and asked prepared questions. Bill added comments, including “We know what your issues are” and “We have exactly what you need.”

After 10 minutes of discussion, Bill announced, “The solution is to use our product suite. We want to work with you, and if you sign on today, I’ll give you 20 percent off our pricing.” The prospects said they’d think about it.

Three months after the meeting, they were still thinking about it.

Bill had the potential to move the sale forward, but he unintentionally sabotaged the groundwork Tom had laid. If you’re a company leader considering a joint sales call, here are some tips for capturing the sale.

Define Your Role

Be clear in advance why you’re going to the meeting. Are you supporting the sales maker to strengthen relationships? Are you the sales maker, stepping in to close a large prospect, negotiate a tough deal, or retain an at-risk customer?

“I’ll follow your lead” is a roll of the dice that keeps you and your salesperson guessing. Review the meeting agenda in advance with your salesperson, and agree on who does what.  Honor your agreement at the meeting

Let the Sales Maker Lead

If the salesperson is the sales maker, let him or her lead from the very beginning. Agree in advance on the tone you both want to set for the meeting, and discuss how your salesperson will introduce you.

Post-introductions, let your salesperson initiate the meeting. Ensure that the agenda includes introductory remarks from you as the company leader, and make certain that your remarks maintain the tone of the meeting.

Look Before You Leap

Bill could not resist jumping in to redirect the discussion and reinforce his point of view. In his drive to help, Bill undermined his own authority and Tom’s credibility. Don’t interrupt to “save” your salesperson. If you think the dialogue has moved off course, use a question to refocus on the agenda, such as:

“Tom and I are interested in your thoughts. How is your company automating workflow in this area?”

Team Up on the Close

Timing is everything in asking for the sale. Don’t kill it with impatience. Set your salesperson up for the close by reinforcing the commitment of your company with questions like this one:

“Tom and I are committed to developing a mutually beneficial partnership between our companies. Based on our dialogue today, how do you see that taking shape?”

Pool Your Collective Expertise

Company leaders are used to being in charge, and salespeople are used to handling sales calls.

A successful joint sales call requires a collaborative blend of roles and skills. Pool your collective expertise and capture that sale—together.