Successful Sales for Meeting Suppliers

Recent important article from: The Meeting Professional, Vol 27

By Dr. Thomas Lisk, LHD,CSE, President, Professional Speakers Bureau Int'l

Suppliers in the meetings industry are well advised to run all they think, say and do through an ethical filter if they want to increase sales and profits—long term. As a supplier and a planner in the meetings industry for 30 years (as of this month), I respectfully offer a few suggestions for your success. 

Think in an Ethical Way

Words and actions emanate from thoughts. You may think you are ethical, but if my experience with suppliers is an accurate test many need a check up from the neck up. Congratulations on your efforts to be ethical in the past, but in most cases there still is a higher road of ethical thought. I am not just writing about the Golden Rule but instead tenets linked to questions such as: Is what you are considering doing or saying something of which your mother or God image would approve?
We all have a great deal to learn, but what is most important to learn and implement consistently for your future success? Nothing is more important than thinking and acting ethically in all ways at all times. Ask others you can trust to evaluate your ethical behavior (confidentially) and take to heart their observations. 

Nothing is Perfect
I must have heard the desire for perfection from a hundred different suppliers in the past five years. Nothing is quite perfect, so why pretend it is? I prefer the word “terrific.” When asked, “How are you?” Terrific! You can program yourself with better responses. But you will never be perfect. Be truthful.
We are all programmed to respond to stimulus around us in certain ways whether we want to admit it or not, and we do so over and over again. If you want different and better results, you must stop saying the same inane things repeatedly. 

Speak More Respectfully
Dozens of suppliers I have dealt with who are a generation younger than me communicate with very little understanding of who I am or where I have been. Research your prospects better, not just the organizations but the decision makers. Show more respect.
If you want respect you must give it. Regardless of generational differences, most of us need to be much more respectful toward older people. The generation older than you may not tell you this, but they often do not do business with you because they do not like the way you treat them. I do not want to be a buddy to someone young enough to be my son or daughter, and I want to be referred to as Dr. Lisk or Mr. Lisk until asked for permission to call me Thom. 

Care, Really Care
The best way to show that you care about people and their needs or problems is to ask the right questions and listen. Don’t simply push your products—if you do this first or too much, you lose. You lose more than you win. Also, if you think caring about people is enough, think again. I love the age-old adage and truth, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care—about them!” If you care, you work to understand and solve problems first and foremost. 

Problem Solvers
Research proves conclusively that problem solving is the best style for almost any kind of selling. Most industry suppliers are simply pushing their products or attempting to form relationships, using sales techniques that are too obvious and/or saying, “Here it is, take it or leave it.” How do meeting planners respond to these approaches? Most will leave it. Find out what people truly want and why they want it—then and only then show how what you are selling solves the problem best. That is noble. This alone is professional selling.
Questions starting with the word “why” are the hardest to ask and get answered. But in asking why (better and more) you can discover dominant buyer motives and serve in a much more noble understanding and wise way.
After 30 years as a meeting planner and a supplier of speakers to meeting planners of all types from all industries, I find I may know what the needs are and what best solves the problem. But in each case I must continue to prove that I care through listening and prescribing the best solution that meets specific needs only after asking carefully crafted questions. We must not assume or presume upon others. 

Of my five married children, three are medical doctors. A doctor that offers a prescription without first completing an examination and offering a diagnosis is said to be committing malpractice. Many suppliers in the meetings industry are committing sales malpractice every day because they are presuming that their products or services are the best or “perfect” solutions. That is nonsense. Customize your solution to each customer need. 

Convince and Motivate
It is said that persuasion is an art, not a science; however, there are some steps that are tried and proven for convincing others.

  • Offer one fact or feature at a time.
  • Offer evidence to back up your claims, preferably visual evidence or proof.
  • Provide a related buyer benefit by using phrases such as, “which means to you.” If the fact or feature cannot be translated into a buyer benefit then forget it.
  • Use a wrap-up or tie-down question such as, “That is important to you, isn’t it?”

Motivation comes from within, and 90 percent of all decisions come from the heart. In other words, it is not really what people want, it is why they want it that truly motivates others to buy. Always ask yourself, “What do they want and why might they want it from me?” before attempting to close any sale.
Remember you must change your thoughts before you can change your actions and words, so improve your thoughts consistently and you will change your habits and your character will improve—as will your results. Then you change your destiny, too.
In my seminars here is how I diagram it in closing: Thoughts determine actions, actions determine habits, habits determine character and character will determine your destiny. May yours be a noble destiny.

Author, Thom A. Lisk, President, Professional Speakers Bureau



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