TALKING SALES 131: "Conversion strategy - How to plan the sale"

John Smibert

strategy             "The winners always research, prepare and plan the sale" - Interview by John Smibert

In our last discussion with Dylis Guyan - "Sales mistake 1 - Lack of strategy"  - we talked about how it is importance to have a strategy to attract customers and gain commitment to meet. Now that we have a commitment what next?


Dylis told me that too often, "salespeople will rock up, open their boot, and they'll rummage through and pull out some dog-eared brochures", and go to their sales meeting with little more preparation. They wing it.

She emphasises that top salespeople carefully plan all sales opportunities. In this discussion she talks in some detail about the need for preparation including research, understanding our customer, their customers and industry, planning your questions, determining the insight we need to use to underpin our questions and more. Dylis uses an excellent case story to emphasise the points.

If you want to know the details you are invited to watch or read the full interview below.

Dylis Guyan is based in Oxford, England and is an international sales and marketing expert, trainer, coach and speaker. She is also founder of the B2B Sales Academy.


John: Hello, I'm with Dylis Guyan again - welcome back, Dylis!

Dylis: Hi, John!

John: Hey, we had a great discussion about how important it is to plan and build a strategy, and the case study you talked about was about how to build a plan to attract, and I thought they were great. But there's a lot more to building a sales strategy than just attracting.

Dylis: Absolutely, yes.

John: Tell me what else we need to focus on.

Dylis: Well, once you've got that prospective client showing interest and wanting to see you, and bearing in mind what I talked about earlier, it takes multiple contact, that has to be part of your strategy.

John: And never give up, yes. Be persistent.

Dylis: Yes, exactly. So, let's say we've got to the point where they're happy to see us, then we have to be prepared for when we go to that face to face meeting. I'm sure that you've seen this, John, where sometimes salespeople will rock up and they open their boot, and they'll rummage through and pull out some dog-eared brochures and so on...

John: Brochures and stuff, yes. And all about "My product or my company."

Dylis: Yes, exactly. So, it's about being prepared. It's, again, doing research to fully understand your client, where they are now, and looking at what their products and services are.

Strategy1John: So the preparation is all about your client, understanding your client, understanding what they're about, the challenges they're facing, what's happening in their industry, what's happening with their customers.

Dylis: Yes, yes. And of course if you're experienced in a particular industry, you will have great insights to bring to your clients, you will become a valuable asset. You will get to the position where they can't do without you, not just your product or service, because you're such a valuable...

John: That's absolutely right. I've seen so many very successful salespeople get their-not because they've got the gift of the gab, it's all about the fact that they get to know their customers, they become an expert in what's happening in their industry and in their particular organisation, and those customers just want to spend time with them because they're creating value in the discussions and conversations they're having.

Dylis: That's right, that's exactly right. So, as part of your preparation you need to think about the questions you're going to ask. After all of these years, I've been in sales over 30 years, and I still prepare my questions.

John: I just talked to Wayne Berry recently, he was saying he still tells everybody to have a script when they're going to make a phone call with somebody, and I said, "If we're really experienced salespeople, surely we shouldn't have a script," and he was adamant. Be prepared, know what you're going to talk about, write it all out, and then make the phone call.

Dylis: Yes, absolutely. Even if you don't want to have a script, at least have bullet points so that you cover everything on that telephone call, otherwise you're just going in... And what happens is, you then fall back to the default position of product dumping.

John: Yes, which is going to get you nowhere.

Dylis: Yes, exactly. So, you need to prepare, research your client again, prepare your questions, prepare your marketing support material, all of your brochures.

plan 3John: You're great on stories. Can you give us a case study where somebody's done this really well?

Dylis: I'll do better than that, I'll give you one where they've done really badly! [laughs]

John: Okay. We learn from mistakes.

Dylis: We learn from our mistakes. And this was just this week whilst I was in the hotel, because I'm on holiday here in Sydney at the moment, and I was privy to a discussion between a guy who was selling some advertising to the hotel. It was beyond dreadful. It was the usual, "Really pleased to meet you, this is my company, we've been in business, la-la-la-la-la," and he asked her nothing about what they were doing, what their challenges were, he didn't bring any insights; he just went straight into a product dump of what he could do.

John: And he didn't demonstrate that he knew anything about them.

Dylis: Nothing, nothing. And this lady, her body language... I mean, I was so interested, and I really... It was eavesdropping. I'll put my hand up, I was eavesdropping.

John: [laughs]

Dylis: There was nothing at all, there was no interest from her, she was sitting back. And all he had to do was ask, "What are you doing at the moment with your advertising? What results are you getting?"

Talking too much2John: But as you say, if he'd done his research... I'm sure in the open market, on Google or whatever, you'd be able to see some of the issues and challenges that hotel were facing, what was happening in terms of their business and so on, and he could've brought that insight to the table with ideas and "Have you thought about this?" and "Here's some ideas for you," and so on. None of that?

Dylis: None of it, none of it - it was just a complete product dump. He didn't talk about what their challenges were with the current advertising, and even more importantly - and I see this missed so many times - he didn't bring up the financial impact and that ripple effect across the business.

John: That example really shows all the mistakes you talked about.

Dylis: Yes.

John: The fact that he didn't plan was one big thing, he didn't do the research, but he also talked about me, my product and my company.

Dylis: Yes.

John: And as you said, customer with folded arms. Hey, there's some great messages there. What's the bottom line message you want to get across to the audience?

Dylis: It's to be customer-focused, and understand the benefits that you bring your client, by taking them to the position where they want to buy from you and where they're going to benefit from buying from you.

John: Those benefits and the value they're going to get from that is likely to vary from client to client even in exactly the same industry.

Dylis: Yes, it is.

John: So actually the research has to be down to the individual client before you have these meetings.

Dylis: Yes, yes. And your questions have to be down to the individual client.

John: Exactly.

Dylis: So, you can have a top line, but then it needs to be very individual as you're taking it further down and further down, to really get to the...

John: Through that sales process.

Dylis: Yes, to get to the nub of the issue and that financial cost too then.

John: Dylis, thank you very much. I love talking with you, and I look forward to the next time we have a chat - I think we'll get lot of value!

Dylis: Okay, great - thanks, John!


More discussions with Dylis:



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