Who Still Wings It These Days?

The latest London option of ‘business’ reality telly, The Apprentice, gets underway this week.

I’ve not bothered with it for years now. I left it at the point that the once almost proper Sales tasking down-dumbed itself to major on the enforced petty politics and one too many a ludicrous weekly “challenge”.

It also doesn’t help that neither of the present “sidekicks” appear worth their salt.

One of these by way of launch pr, does try and give a glimpse into how you ought prepare for his penultimate “interview” stage.

Such surface scratching wouldn’t ordinarily merit a mention. Especially not from such a mediocre source. Yet the first of five tips reeled me in.

Under the label, Nail the basics – they matter, he deliciously begins;

“Turning up late is not OK.

The other thing is, of course, not having researched the company.

Because, if you are going for an interview, you are a serious contender.

Then the first question is, ‘What do you think of our turnover? Where do you think this company is going?’

If you know nothing about the company you are in dead trouble.”

Quite the open door to push at.

Travel snares, previous over-runs, scheduling errors. There’s plenty of reasons that even the most fastidious of us can face the dreaded apology of the tardy. But missing the allotted client meeting starting hour should never happen.

A while back when I accompanied a highly-paid rep on a first call, their opening gambit was, ‘so, tell me about you guys’

All hope duly folded.

This might have been a runner maybe two decades ago.

But definitely not now.

As this applies especially to that crucial first meeting, prep in general for such a forum is not something that we solution sellers gain a high reputation for. Which is often a wasted opportunity.

A quick page or two of a corporate website, coupled with a scan of their latest few tweets is more the norm.

Yet it could be so much better.

I’m not suggesting that you need to prepare yourself for a facts ‘n figures grilling as if you’re taking a medieval history exam back at school.

Nor do I wish to see salespeople spend hours of ineffective surfing, particularly in the office, claiming “research”.

Each product and service in whichever sector may well exhibit slightly differing demands.

I am compelled to point out, that knowing such jumping off points are only a mere first step. As you’ll inevitably be caught out by a prospect’s follow-up or your shallow drill-down question if you’ve only scratched the surface.

Reciting ‘turnover’ alone won’t be enough to cut it. So here’s a quick list of three ideas to begin a potential fruitful avenue:

Commander’s Intent – you should know what the chief exec says the future holds, so ask how’s the trip going along the path you namecheck

Marketplace Shifts – you should know what the latest changes, trends and hot issues are which swirl around your prospect’s sector, so reference them and verify reaction to presumed impact

Operational Focus – you should know what the key issue taking up a top two slot on the to-do lists of most meetings internally there are, whether they surround options being pursued for growth, troubleshooting or a business school type beloved topic like a pivot

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