Chris Gallagher, Executive Business Coach at Upfront Business Development shares the elements of a successful sales meeting.
As a business development consultancy, our central purpose is to win new business for our clients; we find new clients come on board owning a mixture of sales skills, some requiring more sales coaching than others.
Whether you are new or experienced to driving new business meetings, you will agree that holding meetings with prospects and closing sales face-to-face requires mastering a whole range of strategies and sales skills.
This is why Upfront has noted 7 steps to successful meetings to get your sales conversions flowing.
Step 1: Understand your audience.
Before deciding what you need to cover, and the best delivery method, here are some key considerations:
a. Who is attending the new business meeting?
b. What are their specific job roles, and reasons for attending this meeting? If you cannot get this information in advance, ask them to introduce themselves and what they are looking to achieve from the meeting.
c. How many prospects will attend? This will affect whether or not you choose to use a presentation, or use a more informal medium like questions and answers. The more people present, the greater the requirement to use a presentation.
Step 2: Understand yours and your prospect’s objectives.
What are you looking to get out of this meeting, and what are the objectives of the customer? As the agency supplier you are looking to gain some form of decision from the prospect to move to some agreed next steps. This can be anything from a further meeting, additional meetings with other people such as the Financial Director, an invitation to pitch, a commitment to buy, or many others.
Step 3: Do your research.
You must do some research into the client before any sales meeting. The amount and detail required for this is dependent upon the size of business and opportunity. As a rule of thumb, the greater the opportunity, the greater the amount of research required.
What the company does, how large they are as an organisation, and their previous and current situation concerning your service offering are the bare minimum. Along with this, who you are meeting, and their specific role in the process is essential to avoid “time-wasting” meetings with non-decision makers.
Step 4: Have a good structure.
The following is an ideal structure:
• Opening – be clear about why you are here, how you will run the meeting, and what you expected outcome.
• Identify the need – establish the prospects current situation, their challenges specific to your service offering, and their criteria for selecting any supplier.
• Presentation – in bigger sales cycles, you would present this in a follow up meeting. This enables you to write a presentation bespoke to the prospect, and based upon your understanding of their specific needs.
• Deal with objections that arise – very rarely do clients agree to purchase without having some concerns, such as: “It’s too expensive”. There are only ever six or seven regularly occurring objections so learn the best answers for all of them.
• Agree next actions/close the business. In small sales processes you may be able to close the deal on the day. In larger sales cycles, this may be the first of many meetings to come and your “close” is on a further meeting.
Step 5: Make sure you understand where you are in the sales cycle.
It is important that you understand what stage you are at in your sales cycle. Your meeting could be any one of:
• first meeting – exploring client situation and challenge
• presentation of your service or a specific aspect of it
• negotiation of sale
• implementation or training of solution, or
• up-sell for further business.
Each meeting needs to be introduced and delivered very differently. The first meeting is going to be very question based, as you explore every aspect of the client situation relevant to your offering.
Step 6: Use a first class presentation.
A few simple rules to avoid de-valuing your sales pitch by using a poorly prepared or visually unattractive presentation are:
• Make the presentation visually interesting. In an ideal world, flash should be used, but impractical if you need to edit your presentations frequently, where PowerPoint will suffice. That said, you can embed a mini flash presentation within an editable presentation driven by some small headers on the front page of a presentation, alongside your company logo (typical headings can be “testimonials”, “financials”, “proposal”).
• Rely on key phrases or topic headers and imbed “interest peaks” including, graphs, pie charts, and testimonials, etc.
• Do not under use or over use animation. This can become distracting.
• Always have a backup for transferring your presentation to a client workstation.
• Know in advance how much time you have. If the client reduces the time you have to pitch, do not rush through a one-hour presentation in fifteen minutes. Discuss the most salient points or re-appoint another time.
Step 7: Agree next steps.
No matter how good your sales meeting went, and regardless of how impressive you were, if there are no agreed next steps, there is no sale. As discussed earlier, the next steps can be any number of things dependent upon the stage at which you currently are in the overall process.
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