Make the Most of Prospect Meetings

Lucky you!  You networked your way into a meeting with a prospective client.  Now make sure you don’t blow the sale.  Here’s a sales meeting checklist that will help you prevail:

1.     Do your homework.  Beyond the information about the prospect’s needs and priorities that you learned in early conversations,  be sure to supplement client info with a visit to the company website.  Familiarize yourself with products and services,  identify benefits that your services are positioned to bring and formulate the value proposition you will articulate in the meeting.  While on the website,  check out the CEO and other top officers.  If it’s a not-for-profit group,  check out who’s on the board. Perhaps you know or have done business with a VIP?  Finally,  do an internet search and read any articles that have been written about the organization in the last 12 – 18 months.

2.     Set realistic objectives for your meeting.  At the minimum,  verify your understanding of the prospect’s need for your services and learn if there is an upcoming project for which you may be considered.  If a project has been scheduled,  inquire about the timetable and what you must do to obtain the contract (like submit a proposal).  Further,  it’s also wise to  inquire as to whether others will be invited to submit proposals,  so you’ll know the competitive landscape and know how hard you’ll have to work to land the assignment.

3.     Have the right presentation materials.  Have color-coordinated,  good quality printed collaterals that communicate not only the necessary information that a client will need to evaluate your products and services but also a professional image that will reinforce your brand and sell for you after the meeting ends.  If you’ll present a Power Point,  make sure your slides are easy to read,  clear,  concise and relevant.

4.     Rehearse your presentation.  If possible,  videotape yourself as you practice using your printed materials and/or Power Points,  to perfect your pacing and make sure your tone is appropriately upbeat.  Moreover,  be sure to anticipate questions and/or objections and practice answers that will reassure your prospect.

5.     Notice your surroundings.  Are there golf or tennis trophies in the office,  or good art on the walls?  If you can comfortably weave in an element or two,  it will be a good way to personalize your presentation and acknowledge and validate accomplishments or items of which your prospect is obviously proud.

6.     Notice your prospect.  Does your prospect appear to be paying attention to you?  Are there smiles and nods of agreement,  or a bored look,  or even a scowl on the face?  If it’s the latter two,  then you must stop and ask your prospect to tell what he/she finds troubling,  because you clearly have an objection to resolve and you’re nowhere until you do that satisfactorily.

7.     Ask qualifying questions.  Make your presentation a conversation and not a monologue.  Ask questions along the way to discover and confirm your prospect’s needs and listen to the answers.  Incorporate those answers into the rest of your presentation.  Remember to confirm that your prospect is the real decision-maker:  “Are you the person who will make the final decision?”

8.     Present case studies.  Case studies demonstrate the ways in which you can successfully meet client needs.  Prepare two or three that you can discuss and in the process,  build confidence in your capabilities.  Case studies are also a wonderful way to position yourself against competitors.

9.     Summarize your key points.  Place special emphasis on issues that are dear to your prospect,  as revealed in the answers to the qualifying questions you asked earlier on.

10.    Take action.  Ask for the business!  “I’d like to work with you.  Have I answered all your questions and put any reservations you might have to rest?  Do you feel ready to move forward?  When can we get started?”

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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