Each face-to-face interaction with potential clients should be managed to move an opportunity forward. Not knowing what to ask the customer is one reason why customers stop agreeing to schedule time, and opportunities are ultimately lost. An inability to engage in—and, indeed, initiate—customer conversations is a tell-tale sign of lack of commitment and preparation. It demonstrates a fundamental disregard for putting the customer at the core. Recognizing and owning up to ineffective attempts to engage with customers as being the reason the opportunity didn’t advance, instead of providing timeworn excuses (poor economic conditions, indecisive buyers, crossed signals, etc.), is a far more productive way to improve the next attempt. The ability to assess one’s weaknesses in addition to one’s own strengths in an objective, clearheaded way is in itself a strength that can result in improved performance moving forward—and is one you should be cultivating among your teams and yourself.
*Excerpt from MHI Global Sales Performance Journal