Sales meetings are crucial to a sales team’s success, if done properly. They can make all the difference in the world in accelerating your new business development sales cycle. But a poorly-run, disorganized sales meeting isn’t just inconvenient, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
Over my career I’ve learned how to run productive sales meetings. My methodology enables the seller or business development representative to position him or herself as an authoritative thought leader system and provides a framework for the seller to engage in meaningful dialogue in which they add value and co-create a solution with the customer.
With that said, I share with you 5 Tips for Running Successful Face to Face Sales Meetings
1. Pre Call Planning & Research: Internalize the basics on your customer's business. This includes knowing and understanding company size (revenue and employee headcount), key locations, service offerings and products, top top customers and top competitors. What is their business model? Are they growing and investing? Where, why and how? What is their big picture strategy and how does technology fit in? What are their key initiatives currently under way? Upcoming? What are the major trends currently driving their industry? How is their strategy/growth impacting the IT department (and/or) product development? Uncover critical business issues they are trying to solve and goals & objectives they're trying to achieve. If you fail to do this basic research then you have wasted your prospect's time and your time.
With the research in mind, think about and develop ideas on how you and your service offering can help them achieve their goals and solve their challenges. come up with ideas to share on how they can beat their competition.
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2. Opening the Meeting: How will you open the meeting? What specifically will you say? How will you quickly demonstrate credibility and show the client this will not be a waste of their time? When and how will you transition into your questions?
I strongly encourage you to use a meeting agenda. Your meeting agenda should highlight the basics:
The agenda should also highlight how long the meeting will last.
- Who will be in attendance (name and title),
- Time and location of meeting
- Specific topics to be discussed and decisions
When opening the meeting re-confirm everything that was agreed to on the meeting agenda (when the meeting was scheduled). Be sure to re-confirm the client's expectations of the meetings, do NOT assume nothing has changed. Ask the client, "what specifically would you like to get out of our meeting today?" Once the you confirmed the meeting agenda it is time to get down to business.
You get down to business by sharing with the client the research you have done on their company and their department. This is your moment to shine, by impressing them with all your research and what you know about them. What you DON'T do is say "tell me about your business" or "tell me about your staffing needs." Those are classic tactics used by trivial commodity suppliers and transactional business development representatives.
Then, share with them how and why you think you might be able to impact their business by sharing a relevant value proposition with them. When sharing your value proposition do it in such a way that is builds credibility. Don't make it a sales pitch. You should be sharing a relevant story that demonstrates how you have helped another like minded customer in a similar situation. Be sure to articulate:
After doing this let the client know that you have prepared a number of questions to gain a better understanding of their goals & objectives and to determine if and how you might be of value. Remember, people don't want to be sold, they want to buy.
- The challenge the customer faced
- How your team approached the problem
- The specific steps or actions your team took to resolve the issue (the solution)
- The business results. Articulate the quantifiable business results.
Transition into your questions. Before the meeting write all of this down on paper and practice sharing your value proposition out loud with a peer or your sales manager.
3. Prepare Thought Provoking Questions: Don't go into your meeting with the "industry standard" questions like:
These questions are self-serving and focus on what is important you. Even worse, they make you sound like every other IT staffing sales rep; they fail to differentiate you. Instead, ask thought provoking questions that demonstrate you're truly interested in helping your client achieve their goals. Show them that you did your homework and that you want to be more than simply a vendor. If you want to be a true partner, you have to prove to them that you have the chops to do it. A few examples include "what obstacles do you foresee in achieving your goals?" "If you had three ideal outcomes for this project, what would they be?" "I saw in your 10K statement that one of your challenges is....what do you find most concerning?"
- "What types of skills do you look for?"
- "What do you look for in a vendor?"
- "How often do you hire?"
You want to engage in dialogue with your prospect where you can be part of the solution, not after the solution has been defined (order fulfillment). Write down on paper your top 7-10 questions (make sure they're open ended). What issues do you want to validate?
4. Anticipate Objections & Questions: You need to be prepared for any and all questions including objections and rebuttals for those objections. So, what questions might the client ask you? You have to assume they are going to ask you who your current customers are and how you're helping them. Depending on their experience with their other vendors (your competition), they're most likely going to ask you questions about how you handle certain situations where they have been burned or let down by their current/past provider. Again, write down 10 questions you anticipate to hear on your meeting and practice speaking your answers out loud.
5. Summarizing and Closing the Meeting: How will you close the sales meeting? The answer to this question starts at the beginning. What is your goal & objective of the meeting? You can have multiple goals and they could potentially change in the meeting based on what the client shares with you but I suggest you envision the end of the meeting before it begins.
Part of your goal should include the client committing to action. They don't have to sign a contract but you do want them to commit to taking some sort of action and next step. Remember, you get paid for what your client does, not what you do. So what action-item(s) will you ask your client to commit to? By what date? What will you say to summarize the meeting? All of this needs to be planned out in advance.
I suggest you close the meeting by summarize the key takeaways including the decisions that were made and then ask the client "may I make a suggestion?" When they say yes to this question, you simply suggest the next logical and reasonable next step in the process to move closer to a sale. Again, make sure this next step requires the client to commit to some sort of action. It could be them scheduling a follow up meeting, or introducing you to someone else in the account. If you're the one doing all the work you will have a sales bottleneck.