Lucky you, at last you scored a meeting with the dream client you’ve been pursuing for months. Or did you get back in the door of a former client and sign on for repeat business? A meeting to discuss specifics has been called and you can taste the contract. To make sure that you don’t inadvertently put your foot in it and screw up your good fortune, herewith is a sales meeting primer that will help your face-to-face meetings produce the outcome you want. These pointers were developed by Geoffrey James, author of “How to Say It: Business to Business Selling” (2011). I’ve condensed and edited.
1. Have a specific GOAL, or list of OBJECTIVES, that will define the purpose of the meeting. When the meeting is called to discuss a specific project, then your goal is to get the information you need to determine how you will meet the client’s expectations and the project time-table. You must also determine whether you can do the job on your own, or if will you need to subcontract some part of it. A few days before the meeting, start jotting down questions that will bring out the necessary info.
2. Create a meeting AGENDA, which can be that list of questions you’ve come up with.
3. Arrive EARLY to the meeting, 15 minutes ahead of time. Go to the restroom and check your appearance.
4. Turn off your PHONE.
5. Do not TALK TOO MUCH. Remember that the meeting’s purpose is for you to gather information and for the client to communicate project needs and timetable, confirm that you are qualified to do the job and get a sense of how it will be to work with you. By all means, greet your client with some friendly banter that reveals your authentic self. A minute or two of social lubricant is necessary to relax everyone. Just don’t let the chit-chat go on and on. You are the one who must gracefully segue into the business conversation.
6. Don’t be PASSIVE. Remember that you’ve been invited into the meeting to make a contribution, to add your expert insights and opinions. Speak up when necessary. Ask questions, provide answers.
7. Don’t ARGUE with the client. If your client has a business practice or opinion that seems unusual to say the least, diplomatically ask what has brought him/her to that conclusion. There may be a compelling reason that you haven’t thought of. Be careful not to make the client feel as though he/she is out in left field, or behind the times (especially if that is exactly the case!).
Social media gets all the hype and we all love the convenience of email. Still, there’s no way to underestimate the value of human interaction. For many conversations, the telephone is better than email and a face-to-face meeting is the best of all. Learn how to make the most of your meetings. I’ll be back next week with more on how to run good meetings.
Thanks for reading,