Sales Methodology

“Smart Meeting Checklist”

This is a great list…

Smart Meeting Checklist

  • Would skipping this meeting help or hurt our ability to ship?
  • Could it be a Wiki or Basecamp (type) meeting instead?
  • If we have to have the meeting, can we do it in a room with no chairs?
  • Can we invite fewer people? How few?
  • What’s the purpose of this meeting? Pick one of the following (only one). If there’s more than one, skip the meeting.
    • Inform people about the project
    • Learn opinions or facts that will help you ship
    • Discuss the project and gain input from interested parties
    • Pitch or approve the idea
  • After we’re finished, how will we know if the meeting was a success?”

Twelve years ago I learned from a colleague about the power of a “stand-up-ten-minute meeting.”

This check-list from Seth Godin’s “SHIPIT: A little pamphlet for people who can,” is a great affirmation of just that concept, and its effectiveness.

Why use the Greensheet (GST)?

“Craig, do you REALLY take the time to actually fill out a GST?”


Absolutely, and it’s simple math that leads me down that path.

I figure for a Customer that will be buying millions of dollars of our products over the lifetime of the account, taking 20 minutes to plan and assure an effective meeting is an excellent investment of my time; and of course it builds my credibility.

It’s equally important that I plan to explore the customer’s Concept, and what questions I need to ask so I’ll be able to better understand what the customer is looking to accomplish/fix/avoid.

In fact, I had a sales call today was with a Conceptual Selling customer-graduate; we were in a meeting today with his “VP” of the LYard.

It was a very brief sit-down, but I was able to ask my confirmation question, a new information question, and my action commitment question.

I now have a much stronger understanding of the customer’s Concept; and this will help me share the proper Unique Strengths during our next meeting, for which my action commitment question received a “yes.”

[Okay, well it was a “pseudo” action commitment; given the unknowns of my own travel, I was forced to set the date for the next appointment in “a couple of weeks” instead of being specific.]

Planning Pays.

Biggest Competition, Gone?

That’s correct, it’s gone… and for most of us.

There are four types of competition:

  1. Buying from a competitor
  2. Using internal resources (prospect does it oneself)
  3. Budget used for something else
  4. Do Nothing

No question that post housing-crash our (the industry’s) biggest competition has been “Do Nothing.” 

Customers have been frozen for years; hesitant to stray from what’s worked for them in the past, and hesitant to try new things.  Too much risk, much safer to “Do Nothing,” specifically when it comes to a new product or service.

We won’t see any massive growth this year in the housing market, nor any time soon in my humble opinion.  It is what is, today, and at best with possible incremental growth in the following years.

However, the “Do Nothing” competition is gone; and it’s an opportunity for all of us.

[Disclaimer: My macro understanding of the housing market isn’t the strongest, so please take my opinions with a serious grain of salt, if not a truckload.  I focus on the micro – and in that regard, I see a wealth of opportunity to grow sales in partnership with our current customer base] 

Another Terrible VBR…

Ah, the ‘ol VBR (Valid Business Reason)… well, certainly the below doesn’t work, on multiple fronts (received the e-mail this morning):

1) He starts with “I”

2) I’m never a good person to speak with

3) Doesn’t he know that we’re in the building industry, thereby… what’s compensation even mean?

4) “Love?”

“Hi Craig,

I was hoping to learn more about your incentive compensation process, would you be a good person to speak with?  If not, can you possibly point me in the right direction?

Xactly provides a solution that helps companies streamline and automate their sales compensation process.  Some benefits include:

-Increase visibility to sales and management -Reduce manual workload -Provide real time analytical reports for executive management -Easily change comp plans and run spiffs while maintaining accuracy and audit trail

I would love to know either way what your thoughts are.



This e-mail is all about “Matt.”  And I don’t “love” him.

Don’t forget the most important rule:  It’s not about “I,” it’s about the customer, and what’s in it for them to meet with you… or take your call, or answer your e-mail.

[NO, WindsorONE sales team, I’m still not gonna call the guy]


There’s ONE THING you can’t do without to close a sale:


It’s simple, it’s about TRUST.

Oh, and don’t forget, you can never have enough Credibility; the more you have, the faster the sales process will move forward.

Always check your Credibility during a sales call.

Recall this slide from CS (Conceptual Selling):

Without Credibility, you’ll lose those powerful stats.

The Action Commitment

What’s the point of a sales call?


To move the sales process forward!

What’s our tool to do just that? The Action Commitment.

REMEMBER: The Action Commitment (AC) is not what we’re going to do, it’s the ACTION the CUSTOMER is going to COMMIT to TAKING!

This is NOT an AC:

You: “Bob, will you pull together a list of your top 10 customers?”

Bob: “Yeah, sure… I’ll try and get that done.”

Note that there is NO commitment here… just a “yes,” and Bob really never has to do or commit to anything.

This IS an AC:

You: “Bob, what is a good time next week for us to sit down and review a top 10 customer list you’d be able to create?”

Bob: “I should be able to have that together for you by Wednesday.”

Note this time that Bob had to think things through, prob look at his calendar… and then COMMIT to a date, and to the ACTION of prepping the top 10 customer list.

Action Commitments will engage the Buying Influence, and allow us to move the sales process forward at a more efficient and effective rate.

The Power of Questions

We ask great questions to better understand the customer’s Concept; that is, what they are trying to accomplish, fix, or avoid. Wording our questions in different ways can have a strong impact on the answers we receive from the BI (Buying Influence). Let’s look at an example:

New Information Question:

Q: “Mr. Bob, will you help me understand what an ideal vendor-supplier relationship looks like at your Company?”

The answer the BI gives will be factual information, and perhaps get into the parameters of what a vendor-supplier relationship should look like under the Company’s direction.

Now let’s take the same question, and turn it into an Attitude Question:

Q: “Mr. Bob, will you help me understand what you feel an ideal vendor-supplier relationship should look like at your Company?”

The answer the BI gives will now become more personal; and you may learn some frustrations that the BI has with a current supplier, or perhaps you’ll learn about improvements that the BI would like to initiate.

Both questions are very pertinent; and changing just a couple of key words can yield us significant additional information.


The Customer’s Concept

We’ve changed the way we look at things:

The Customer isn’t buying our product or service, they’re buying what our product/service accomplishes, fixes, or avoids: we call this the Customer’s Concept.

Not the drill

For example, the Customer isn’t looking to “buy a drill,” they’re looking to buy the “hole in the wall” that the drill makes.

And we didn’t buy “Conceptual Selling w/ Greensheets” last week, we bought the ability to move the sales process forward more effectively and efficiently.

We’re able to understand the Customer’s Concept by asking great questions; and once were able to determine what the Customer is looking to accomplish, fix or avoid, we can connect our product/service by sharing Unique Strengths.

Practice Golden Silence!

be quiet

Remember, after you ask your powerful question, practice Golden Silence, and pause for 3-4 seconds; the Buying Influence (BI) will need a few moments to process what you’ve asked. And after the BI is done talking, be silent again for another 3-4 seconds, and the BI will usually expand on his initial answers, thereby giving you an even deeper understand of his Concept.