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The Meeting

by David Brock on September 13th, 2011

You’ve spent all this time trying to get through to the prospect.  You’ve finally reached the customer and set up the first meeting.  You’re getting yourself ready– you’ve got one shot, you need to maximize your impact.

Most sales people would grab a briefcase full of brochures, case studies and testimonials.  They would make sure they had the latest PowerPoint presentations on their computers or Ipads, ready to pitch.  For some, preparation for the meeting will be done as they sit in the lobby waiting for the customer.  For others, they feel they’ve done so many sales calls, they’ll just shoot from the lip.

For most B2B sales, this is probably the wrong thing to do.  Our meeting preparation needs to focus on making sure we know as much about the customer as we can, that we have preliminary ideas of problems they may have–that we can solve.

It’s more and more difficult to reach customers.  Once we reach them, it’s difficult to get them to meet, so we need to maximize our impact.  It’s important that we are well prepared for that meeting, that we are capable of conducting a high impact meeting.

Some thoughts on preparation:

  1. Do you understand the customer’s (enterprises) key strategies and priorities for growth?
  2. Do you understand any problems they may be facing in achieving their goals?
  3. Have you googled them, seeing if there are any announcements (new products, press releases, organizational changes, financial reports, news) that you should be aware of for your meeting?
  4. Do you know who their competitors are and how they are positioned in their industry?
  5. Do you know their “reputation?”  What do customers think?  What do analysts think?  What do suppliers think?
  6. Do you know the jargon that’s used in their business?  Do you know the KPI’s?
  7. Have you looked at the profiles of the people you will be meeting with in LinkedIn or Facebook?  Have you googled them to understand more about them as individuals?
  8. Do you have a preliminary understanding (perhaps and educated guess) about their responsibilities and KPI’s?
  9. Do you have an agenda the customer and you have agreed upon? 
  10. Is the structure of the agenda appropriate for the time you have for the meeting?
  11. Do you have clear and appropriate objectives for the meeting?  Do you know what you need to accomplish at a minimum?  Do you have a stretch goal?
  12. Are your goals and objectives appropriate, given the people that are participating in the meeting.
  13. Do you know what you need to discover to determine if there is a real opportunity for which you can compete?
  14. Have you written down your questions?  Do the questions help you achieve your goals for the meeting?
  15. Have you anticipated questions and objections the customer may have?  Are you prepared to respond to them?
  16. Do you know what the customer expects to get out of the meeting?  Can you clearly identify what’s in it for them, what value they will get from the meeting?

Items 1-8 may be difficult to find.  As many of these that you can complete, the results and your ability to connect with impact will be improved.

Items 9-15 are critical to maximizing the impact in the meeting.  They are critical to using your and your customer’s time well.

If you don’t know the answer to Item 16, if you can’t clearly identify the value of the meeting for the customer, then you aren’t ready.  Cancel the meeting, reschedule it when you can answer that question.

In each meeting we have with prospects and customers, we need to maximize our impact with the customer.  Preparation is key to achieving that. 

In each meeting, we want to make sure we are using our time well, we want to maximize the impact on our time utilization.  Preparation is key to reducing the sales cycle.

Think of your next meeting with a new customer.  How many of these questions can you answer?  The more you can, the better the outcome of the meeting.

(For a free sales call planning checklist, covering these issues and more, just email me at dabrock@excellenc.com, asking for the Sales Call Planning Checklist)

 Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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4 Comments
  1. Dave,

    I cannot thank you enough for this post! I plan on making the transition into B2B sales in the coming months and this is qn EXCELLENT checklist for pre-meeting preparation! I particularly like #15. I think contingency planning us important so as to not get caught off guard. I think a good rule of thumb is that, if you would raise the objection, assume that your customer will as well. Thanks again!

  2. Mark Modesti permalink

    What a great checklist Dave! I am going to file it for future use.

    I’m looking forward to seeing what you put together on the topic of Time Management for the Sales Professional.

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