A medical device company in Europe was looking for support in the preparation of an important European product launch.
The product was #1 in the United States and was going to help the company to become #1 in several European markets.
My client (let’s call her Michelle even if it is not her real name,) the European Director of Sales shared with me that she wanted to bring the 120 top salespeople together, to train them about the new product, the new sales playbook and to motivate them. She agreed to let us interview about 25 people in her sales force.
When we met again after completing the interviews, we shared with her what we had discovered:
- GOOD NEWS: Her salespeople were very excited about the upcoming product launch in Europe
- BAD NEWS: Her sales force had a mentality of being “number two”
- Every time we were asking them questions about their expectations of the sales meeting, they started to speak spontaneously about the main competitor
- Data showed the company had been #2 for the last 7 years
- My recommendation: to become the #1 product in Europe, you should first work on changing your sales force’s attitude and behaviors, so they become #1 in their minds before anything else.
From there, we prepared the content of the meeting around shifting the sales force’s mindset from number two to number one! We coached Michelle on how to relay this mindset in her opening remarks at the event.
During the opening session, when she took the stage, she opened with the following remarks: “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome! We have an amazing program in front of us, and more importantly, we have a new product that is #1 in the US because of the following features… This new product is going to position us as the undisputed leader in all of our European markets, but we have a huge problem!”
Michelle paused and mentally counted to three while looking at everyone in the room.
You couldn’t hear a sound in the room…she had gotten their attention!
“The problem is that you all sell like a #2! I sell like a #2 – and guess what? We have been #2 for the last 7 years. If we want to be successful and leverage all of the features of our new product, we need first to change our mentality. We need to start selling like a #1!”
Segue…remember we found out the WHY first and then we designed the meeting content around their Why!
We then moved the attendees to the adjacent room where we did a “speed dating” session. 60 people on one side played “the customer,” and the other 60 people practiced “selling” the new product to “the customer.”
We made them do rotations and take turns in both positions for about two hours. Afterward, everyone returned to the meeting room to debrief their experiences and explore new ideas.
From this experience, attendees realized that 80% of the possible customer objections to the new product were the same, regardless of the customer’s country of origin. The other 20% of likely customer objections were nationally or culturally based.
As a result of this meeting and what the attendees experienced, Michelle modified their training program per market and created an intranet where all customer objections, including new ones, were posted with the best response.
This became the basis for the content of the sales force’s weekly meeting.
The outcome of the product launch far exceeded everyone’s expectations! It was the most successful product launch in the company!
Talk about a mindset shift to #1!
The outcome and results would have been very different if we, the independent meeting planner, did not learn about their Why first!
During our interview process, we uncovered valuable information that helped catapult our client’s company to have the most successful product launch in their company’s history!
Moral of the story: From the moment you know the “Why” your client is having a meeting, and you have identified the challenges, then the design and execution become a little more comfortable and certainly more meaningful.
Going thru the “why” questions first will guarantee that you are delivering the right message to the right audience and that your meeting aligns with your client’s corporate objectives!
Do you think you can do it?
Ok, take the next 10 minutes and write down the questions you are going to ask at your next customer meeting?
What would be the top 3?
Share with me in the comments below so that we can all learn.