There are some pretty awkward meetings account management can throw your way. Each nasty scenario will be well known to higher management and will come with a positive counter.
For instance, when summoned to be told that your company’s provision is so bad that your supply is no longer required, most bosses will send the farmer on their way with a clear instruction along the lines of ‘the best time to sell to a client is when they’re thinking of leaving’.
The introduction session is a also a potentially tricky time. You’ll be tasked with knowing what can be added to your forecast immediately after. But how can you come across as genuinely focused on the customer’s well-being rather than your own sales agenda?
One little trick occurred to me after reading about how Doctors working with children uncover significant, yet often shrouded, information. As the article states, “The answers were more revealing than most parents learn from a month of monosyllabic grunts uttered across the dinner table“.
The question is;
“If you could have three wishes, what would they be?”
Imagine such a forum you’ve been involved with in the past. Could you have introduced such an item? Can you think about how it could have helped you?
From these kinds of meetings I’ve been in, I can certainly vouch for it being well worth a try. I would be minded to phrase the question in a way that doesn’t seem explicitly about ‘you’ though. I suspect that simply asking for ‘three wishes about my product’ would provide too narrow an insight. Better to place the wishes in the context of the specific roles and responsibilities of your individual clients. Perhaps even stating their department or process, rather than your company or product name.
And if you would like to bring this up but worry that tensions may be too fraught, you can always intro it with a moment of levity. Use a variation of the age-old three wishes joke;
Three men are stranded on a desert island, when a bottle washes up on the shore.
When they uncork the bottle, a genie appears and offers three wishes.
The first wishes to be taken to Paris. The genie snaps his fingers, and the man suddenly finds himself standing in front of the Eiffel Tower.
The second man wishes that he were in Hollywood, and with a snap of the genie’s fingers, he finds himself on a Tinseltown movie set.
The third man, now alone on the island, looks around and says, “I wish my friends were back.”