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Workgroup report (Servant Sales): Engaging technical professionals in the client conversation

Servant Sales practitioners hone their craft through the use of thoughtful and helpful questions. But when adding their company’s technical person (engineer, architect, accountant, attorney, e.g.) to the discussion, they might learn that adding that professional to the next meeting can derail the relationship.

Participants

  • Nathan Bares
  • Bill Mitchell
  • Grace Redovich
  • Carolyn Tretina
  • Derrick Van Mell
  • Carol White

Three Big Ideas

  1. Preserve the momentum of your prospect relationship by time spent preparing in advance, including participant bios and role clarification.
  2. Both the business developer and the technical expert should agree on three goals for the meeting.  
  3. It’s all about the questions: those that provide insight into prospects’ deep needs and finding value before asking for the order.

Things to Think About

hat background does the technical expert need in advance of the introduction?

  • Define the scope and objectives of the meeting.
  • Share what rapport-building steps have already been taken.
  • Pretend you already have secured the assignment (or sale, contract, etc.) and ask how this would shape the questions to be asked in the meeting.
  • Consider an e-mail introduction in advance of the meeting, a short background or LinkedIn profile information on each meeting participant.
  • Technical professionals are great at discovery, so recommend they ask those kinds of questions.

What are 1-3 goals for the introductory meeting?

  • Agree on how introductions will be handled and the best ‘opening’ questions. *
  • Agree on the roles for the BD and technical person. Is the BD role to uncover unmet needs and the technician to propose solutions – or a blend of the two?
  • Assess the BD role in the meeting: think of the BD person as a kind of ‘Rosetta Stone’, bridging technical jargon and the big-picture view of prospect needs. 
  • Consider that the most valued person in an organization is a technical person with the skills that can relate to a client comfortably.
  • Be focused on more than the questions; knowing every interaction should be meaningful, practice really hearing the answers – perhaps using a clarifying question such as “What I hear you saying is…”
  • Request that the technical person listen for the root cause of an issue, perhaps by asking as series of ‘why’ questions.

What three good questions would give the technical representative insights into the relationship?

  • *Rehearsing ‘openers’, such as ‘How did you get started in the business?’, ‘Which part of your Strategic Plan are you focused on right now?’, ‘What risks to business success are keeping you up lately?’ or ‘Why do you love doing what you do?’  
  • The Servant Sales model is based on showing value before asking for the order; so, offer to add value at little-to-no cost (technical papers, relevant articles, research reports, etc.) that support the prospect’s issues.
  • End the meeting with questions that improve the odds for a second meeting: ‘How did this meeting work for you today?, ‘What questions should I have asked today?’, ‘How would you like us to proceed?’ or even boldly asking ‘How can I get you started today?’

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The Center for Management Terms & Practices is the standards body for general management.  We create and support management succession programs.  Our mission:  Help people achieve great things together. See The GMs Index and The GMs Toolkit for the standard terms, tools and best practices.

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