I work closely with salespeople. Usually, in the spirit of consultative sales, I greatly value customer interaction as precious time to develop a deep understanding of customer pain points and perspective, so that I can help the customer with a dedicate, best fitting solution. So, for me, having a customer call means having a productive dialog with a customer.

Enter the salesperson. Every time I am in a call with a salesperson, it's not possible to have a dialog. The salesperson will wait 5 minutes, maybe, then the impatience will take over and he/she will talk, and talk, and talk, asking a question every 5 minutes, getting some answer, and talking more and more until the end of the slot.

It's not that I don't want to interrupt the salesperson... I feel uncomfortable in the whole process. I don't think it's a valuable interaction. This happened with more than one salespeople - not all of them, luckily. But when this happens, it's detrimental. And... I don't want the salesperson to disappear, he/she can contribute with good questions and good topics.

In the past I tried having pre-meeting preparation with the salesperson, to agree on how to lead the meeting together. But once the meeting starts, after 5 minutes the "hound" takes over.

The question is: how to have customer meetings with salespeople without having the salesperson talk for 90% of the time?

  • 4
    Who schedules these phone calls? Who is leading these phone calls? What is your role on these calls? – joeqwerty Apr 20 at 13:42
  • 3
    What are your personal relationships with the salespeople like? What are your business relationships and relative seniority with them? – Player One Apr 20 at 13:46
  • 2
    What is the primary purpose of the call? For you to learn about the customer? To make a sale? For the customer to express some concern? ... – Patricia Shanahan Apr 20 at 14:21
  • 2
    Have you tried making separate calls for consultant work and sales pitches? – sf02 Apr 20 at 14:21

Having had experience with "motor-mouths", I think it's valuable to consider and address WHY someone is talking so much. There are always reasons for such behavior and if you can understand it you'll be in a better place to reach a solution.

When someone talks so much, it's a way for them take control of the situation. They may feel that if they don't have control they'll lose an opportunity, in this case a sales opportunity.

I think your approach of meeting in advance with this person and coordinating is the correct one. It's not necessarily as simple as going over an outline of material to present, however. You need to gain the trust of this person.

If you say that after 5 minutes they just "take over", that seems like there's a lack of trust. They can't just say that in the meeting, of course, and he probably won't say it to you in private either. Unless your relationship is such that these things can be discussed openly.

It could also be that they feel the communication with the customer is their responsibility and you are there merely as a side-kick to add technical gravitas. That happens. It really does. They may want you there simply to demonstrate that they are serious or, rarely, as a contingency in case there's something that they can't answer.

Finally, it could be that you and the sales person have completely different intent for the purpose of the meeting. If you're there to get perspective about "pain points" and the sales person is there for something else entirely, those intentions conflict with each other. The sales person might not understand which direction you're going and you might feel that you're not getting any useful information.

Whatever the case, you'll want to develop a relationship with this sales person where you both can coordinate and talk about tactics. It might be that you need to be content with occasionally chiming in with a clarification, or maybe they feel that you are not properly setting up the customer to understand the pitch or goal of the meeting. Whatever the case, understanding the point of view of the sales person will help. Or, at least, you could explain more fully what you need from this meeting so that they can work it into their approach. If you don't have that relationship, they'll just continue to blindside you with these behaviors.

| improve this answer | |

There are two angles I can see to improve this situation. I would try to convince them to use a simple Plan-Do-Check cycle used in a lot of facets of business.

Before the meeting come up with a game plan. This will include topics to be avoided/redirected, topics that are a sales opportunity, specific technical feedback you need, etc. Be open that you are concerned that the bandwidth of the meeting may not go towards meeting the needs that you have agreed upon. One thing that I've done with a partner before is create a signal that means "get back to our script" but you need buy in from your teammate that their behavior could mean your needs not being met and they are willing to avoid that.

The equally important part is after the meeting check on the results. Were the requirements of your game plan met? Did you avoid things you didn't want to talk about, highlight things that you did, and get all answers you were looking for? If not why? What follow ups are there from your team (meeting action items plus anything additional that needs to be done that should not have been discussed in front of the client)?

| improve this answer | |

Take a salesperson who is lower ranking than you into the meetings, so you can have formal power over them.

Simply put, you want to have formal control over the salesperson, so that you can discipline them afterwards if they go off script. As such, you should try to get a junior salesperson formally assigned to work underneath you during these meetings; even if you’re not their boss during their day-to-day work, they should understand that during these meetings, you are the boss and they are to follow your instructions. If they fail to do so, discipline them for it, using whatever disciplinary procedures your workplace employs.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .