In a deal cycle, each meeting with a prospective buyer is a milestone activity and a successful one propels the opportunity forward. The meeting is your live “at bat”. With each one, you’re either moving the opportunity forward or you’re not. If your company has a major opportunity and you want the sales team to be fully equipped, or if your sales team is struggling to convert prospects into customers, make sure everyone is following this game plan for how to lead successful sales meetings.
You don’t need to be in the sales business to know that you need to be able to make persuasive presentations no matter what your customer might be. You need to have a great presentation game for both your internal public and your external customers.
So the responsibility is pretty major. I’m not going to say that this step of the sales process is more important that the others but it is kind of the deal make or breaker… but I’m just going to assume that you’ve covered the preceding steps and that you get to talk to the right person, whose potentially highly interested in what you have to offer.
How to prepare for a successful sales meeting
Research tells us that about 2% of deals are closed after the first sales meeting. This means that in order to close 10 deals on the first meeting, you need to fill your sales pipeline with at least 500 meetings. That’s why it becomes even more important that when you do get that sales meeting, you own it.
1. Do your homework
Make sure to find time to get to know the company you’re planning to meet, understand their market and the individuals you’ll be meeting. Not only will this demonstrate your commitment to their cause, but it will also limit any risk of being caught off-guard.
A study by Forrester Research found that 70% of sales people are not prepared to answer questions from the buyer during a sales meeting, and that 77% do not completely understand the potential customer’s needs and problems.
So before you go to the sales meeting, make sure that you:
understand the company mission and objectives
read their website, news, blog posts
read about the person you’re going to have the sale meeting with (in order to identify their position within the company, their interests and background
read about their competition
2. Send an email reconfirming the meeting.
Just because the meeting is on your calendar doesn’t mean that it’s on your prospect’s calendar.
To avoid miscommunication, send a simple email as a simple reminder.
3. Gather materials that are essential for the sales meeting
You should always (always always!) arrive prepared with an agenda. No matter how simple the discussion may be, you want begin with a simple outline of talking points.
This is a great opportunity to differentiate yourself from competitors, communicate your level of brand awareness, and to determine the focus of the discussion.
4. Review your sales pitch
This one’s a no brainer. You’ll want to ensure that you know the sales pitch inside and out.
You can even ask a coworker or a friend without previous knowledge to read through it), and remove any parts that don’t make sense. Pay close attention to your language throughout the pitch too: is it consistent? Is it easy to understand?
It’s common for pitches to become complicated, filled with clichés and buzzwords that might just not mean anything for your prospect.
If you’re not sure about what to include in your sales pitch, ask yourself these questions:
Does your pitch address all requirements and meet the needs of the potential client?
Have you made sure that you’re familiar with the prospect’s industry?
Have you clearly stated the value proposition?
What questions might arise during the pitch?
5. Prepare your own questions for the sales meeting
Before the meeting, create a list of questions of your own to ask. Design your questions carefully in order to learn more about the company’s needs and requirements, and to demonstrate that you’ve spent time doing the research.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are five “safe” questions you could use:
What kind of budget range do you have for this type of project?
What would you like to see from a company like ours that you have not found to date?
Are there any more decision makers besides yourself? How will they be impacted?
How can I help you reach you company goals better?
What are the following steps we can make?
One thing to take into account is that your questions may, in turn, prompt further questions from the other party. Consider whether the questions add real value to the conversation or increase the chance of complications.
6. Practice your sales meeting
Just as an artist of top athlete, you need to practice what you’re going to say in your sales meeting. You need to rehearse and make sure that your pitch is clear and complete.
To prepare for a sales meeting, the day before meeting, take 5 minutes to think about what 3 items are most important to your prospect.
Use a CRM software to analyze all of your previous interactions.
What have they told you in phone calls or conversations about their priorities? In your meeting, speak directly to these priorities; make them feel heard and understood. When you can communicate that you’ve listened and that you are serious about solving their pain points, you demonstrate your value as a salesperson. Again, if you can’t write down their three priorities they you’re not ready for the meeting.
Preparation is key to a smooth sales meeting with a prospect. The day before the meeting, send a confirmation email, gather essential materials, practice the PBC, review the attendees, and write down your prospect’s priorities.
7. Make sure you rest
This piece of advice has more to do with your overall state of mind, that’s going to affect the way that you concentrate and interact with your potential customers.
According to the Great British Sleep survey of more than 20.000 people, thoughts such as worries about the following day are the main reason for sleepless nights. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that the worst side effect of poor sleep is daytime fatigue the following day, which means we are less likely to be productive.
You need to be both focused and alert. By being fully prepared for your sales meeting days in advance, you can eliminate the need for last minute all-nighters, which can severely impact your confidence, concentration level and delivery (as well as contribute to arriving late!).
In conclusion, while there’s plenty of research on how to hold a successful sales meeting, advice usually gravitates around doing your research, practicing and resting.
So how do you get ready for a sales meeting? Any tricks you can share?