I was recently listening to a salesperson who was lamenting that his boss told him to “Get out and go see clients.” Certainly a reasonable request! When I asked “Dave” what the problem was, he told me that he replied, “I have nothing to talk to them about, so why would they see me?” I suggested to Dave that he did not need a reason to see clients and that he should try going without an agenda and see what happened! In other words, I was suggesting he have an “agenda-free call” and let the cards fall where they may. The dead silence was enough to tell me that he was uncomfortable with that idea – but he shouldn’t be! Further, when I asked “Dave” what he was afraid of, he said he had nothing to offer them! Au contraire, my sales colleague. You have your willingness to invest of yourself and your time to understand more about how your clients are successful and how you can help them be even more successful.
Not every sales call has to be for the specific purpose of presenting something and closing something. Meeting with your clients and not having an agenda is a wonderful way to build trust and deepen the relationship. It’s also a way to send the message that not every time they see you coming in that you want to sell something. Now the idea of agenda-free calls is not really new news – it is, however, a new behavior and mindset that all sales professionals need to practice and get comfortable doing.
I don’t want the idea of having an agenda-free call to be confused with stopping by to pass out coffee or doughnuts – that IS an agenda, and it’s obvious. Having NO agenda means saying to your client, “I really wanted to be here to see how we are doing or how your business is doing.” The bravest and most courageous question you could ask is “How am I doing?” Yes, in a way, you would have an agenda – but it’s all about the clients. Get it now? The purpose of the agenda-free meeting is not to sell but to have a conversation about them and their business, not with the goal of leaving with something. Try it and see what happens – and let me know.