Sam is a sales manager for a software company and is responsible for selling software licenses to a set of customers. He had a meeting with one of his primary clients which did not go well and he lost the deal to his competitors. He had thought that his relationship with the customer was very healthy and he was very sure that would land the deal. He did not realize when he lost the deal.
He now has to go back to his manager Tom and inform him about the lost deal. He was not really looking forward to the meeting as he thought that the meeting would turn out to be nasty.
He goes to meet Tom and tells him that he lost the deal. Tom’s reaction surprises Sam. Instead of getting mad at Sam and blaming him for losing the deal, Tom is very calm and asks Sam to sit down. He then asks Sam to re-visit the last 3-4 meetings with the customer and try to think of something unusual that the customer said or did in those meetings. When Sam sat down and was thinking about those meetings, he does realize that the customer had been very fidgety whenever Sam had brought up the topic of the deal. He also remembers that the customer had changed the topic a couple of times when Sam was trying to figure out what the customer thought about his quote.
Tom then asks Sam what would he have done if he realized this earlier. Sam said that he would have explored why the customer was un-comfortabel every time the deal was mentioned. If he was able to find out the true reason, maybe they would have had a chance to win the deal.
Tom then asks Sam, what does he think, he could have done differently in those meetings. Sam gives it another thought and says that maybe he should have been a little more careful and observant about these little signals that the customer was giving.
Tom then asks Sam what he learnt from this incident. Sam says that he learnt that it is important to be more attentive and observant about the little out-of-place behaviours by customers to understand if all is well.
Tom adds that it is not always possible to observe all of this when we are in the middle of the meeting. So, it helps if we re-live all of these important meetings at the end-of-the-day. This will not only ensure that you do not miss any such signals but also helps in improving your ability to absorb more information the next time around.
Sam decides to make this a habit to retrospect all his important meetings with customers and also to identify what he did good and where he could have acted differently.
Moral of the story:
Retrospection of a meeting with a customer on a regular basis can help you pick up signals that can help you plan your next step with the customer. This coupled with introspection of our behavior provides us the unique opportunity to understand our instinctive behaviours and also helps identify the areas of improvements for all of us.
These are two habits (retrospection & introspection) that every successful sales person develops (consciously or sub-consciously). If used regularly in combination, this has the potential to provide us with incredible opportunities to identify our strengths and areas of improvement.
Set aside 30 mins every day before you leave your office to retrospect on the day, important meetings and
- List down any unusual behavior from others in the meeting
- If given a chance to re-live the meeting, would you like to change any of your reactions? If yes, what and why?
- Read the entire list everyday morning just so that this remains in your conscious mind.