29 Apr Master Group selling, in 3 easy-to-follow steps
Master Group selling, in 3 easy-to-follow steps
Martin stared at the mail in disbelief. He had made what he thought was a winner of a presentation at Prometh Hospitality Inc. for airconditioning their upcoming hotel project. He had, only 3 days ago, made a compelling case for a bundled offer of heating, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) solutions. He thought he had made an impression on the cross functional group formed to evaluate the proposal. Also present were independent consultants retained by the Customer for expert inputs.
The response was swift and it was this:
|SUBJECT: Your proposal for provision of HVAC solutions for our upcoming hotel project
I’m writing to inform you that the Evaluation Group (EG) was of the view that the proposal requires rework on the following counts: |A detailed note on how the solution will address the issue of harmonics;|value engineering ideas for cost savings;|confirmation of closure of all electrical/plumbing interface points.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Thank you for your time.
Martin found this astonishing. He had had one on one meetings with the project manager where he had explained how meticulously all MEP (Mech/Electrical/Plumbing) interfaces had been tied up. The independent consultant had been briefed on harmonics mitigation plan.Finance had been given an exclusive presentation on cost savings to accrue from the solution. What on earth had gone wrong?
“The whole is never equal to the sum of its parts” No, you are not getting into an article on quantum physics. Have you been frustrated by the pains and pitfalls of trying to convince groups on open and shut proposals after doing all the individual prep there was to do? Then you’ll readily connect with this axiom of group selling.
You wouldn’t find group selling to be a sales minefield if you adopt these 3 easy-to-follow steps
- Recognize why group selling can be uncomfortable
Why do even sales veterans, who mesmerize individual Customers into instant closures, wince at the prospect of selling to groups? The discomfort stems from three sources:
- Isolation – In contrast to individual selling, in a group, you are one against many
- Lack of feedback – Individuals in a group are frequently sensitive to what others think or how they may react, which often inhibits candid feedback
- Constant risk of losing the initiative – With interests of participants being diverse and sometimes conflicting, selling to a group could drift into discussions that rob focus and drain initiative
- Plan ahead to beat group selling blues
With a little advance planning, you can overcome the discomfort in group selling. Here are action points to help you:
- Try and transform the meeting ambience from formal to informal – Integrate into the group before and during the meeting to change the atmosphere. You will quickly get over the ‘one against many’ feeling of isolation
- Adopt a ‘problem-solving’ over a ‘sales meeting’ approach – This will pitchfork you into an ‘insider’ position with the group and help you shed the ‘outsider’ tag. Feedback will also improve rapidly thereafter
- Lead the discussions and make smart use of allies in the group – To prevent loss of focus and initiative, you can unobtrusively steer the discussions towards desired outcomes and take the support of allies developed through prior personal contacts
- Be mindful of ‘role expectations’ and present with power
You should analyse the composition of the group and its interpersonal dynamics well ahead of the meeting. Ask questions like | Who will take part? | Who could be influenced to participate? (Or stay away?) | What do they know, think or expect? | What drives them? | Who will be an ally, opponent or neutral indifferent participant? Answers to these questions will give you powerful insights into how the group is likely to respond to your presentation. Anticipation and preparedness will win more than half the battle for you
‘You must remember that by virtue of status, position, competence or personality expects to be playing a certain role or part in a group. So, this analysis gives you a peek into the ‘role expectations’ that each participant will bring to the meeting
Make your presentation to the group powerful by drawing on all the techniques that create a high impact. And make sure your presentation is structured to align with your objectives.
One fail-proof structure to follow would be:
| The brief – the situation as you understand it | Customer’s needs – Your view and what the Customer thinks of it | Your proposal to address the Customer’s situation and needs | Why your company is best placed to take care of it | Take questions from Customer | Further steps
Another secret of group influence is to share this presentation sequence upfront even before you start. This way participants will hold their questions till the appropriate stage and you can retain control all through the meeting.