In a sales meeting you often don't have a lot of time. That is why you need to make sure every action, statement and question is working toward a goal. In this article I outline a series of steps that can guide your actions to plan a successful sales meeting.
1. A Great First Impression & Grab Their Attention
Studies have indicated that people make a judgement about other people they meet within 30 seconds, and those judgments have a strong lasting impact. For this reason making a strong first impression is critical. The best way to do this is show lots of enthusiasm, look your prospect in the eye and put on a warm smile. There are many other small body language ques you can use to give a great first impression and build instant rapport. For more on how to make a great first impression read my blog post titled .
Another great way to make a great first impression is to be interesting. Make a statement or do something that will get your prospect extremely interested. For example for my customer Gold Roast Coffee Serives I might say something like "I think we might be able to save you 20% on your office coffee supplies" or "Did you know that the average person can be 20-40% more productive". Telling a story is also a great way to grab someone's attention. The story does not even have to be closely related, it could be as simple as something interesting you heard on the morning news.
2. Determine The Situation, The Problems And The Opportunities
Once you have their attention you need to steer the conversation of the meeting. Where you want to steer the meeting towards is where your prospect realizes they have a problem or opportunity and they see that you have a highly valuable solution that can help them. Your goal should also be to create a sense of urgency so that they act now instead of later. To make this happen you will want to ask questions instead of making statements because it is much easier to get a prospect to come to their own conclusions than to try and convince them of something using facts and figures. To learn more on how to use questions to move a prospect from explaining the situation to desiring your product read my blog post SPIN Selling Questions.
Your prospects only cares about having their challenges resolved or opportunities captured. They really don't care about your product or service. They only are interested when it helps them with their challenges or opportunities. That is why it is critical to quickly get an understanding of the situation and then focus most of your time understanding the true problems and opportunities and getting your prospect to see the value of a solution.
3. Reflect The Severity Of The Problems And Opportunities
Once you have determined what the main problems and opportunities are you will want to reflect these back to your prospect to fuel the fire so to speak. So if you know that they are having a hard time getting quality promotional items you could say something like. "I can understand how it must be hard to find high quality promotional items that reflect positively on your company image and not negatively. There are so many companies out there that provide low quality items that when you give the items away as promotional items they actually damage your company's reputation. I can see how it is frustrating that you are spending money to promote your business and it is actually hurting your business. The last thing you want to be doing is paying money to damage your own business."
By discussing in a manner like this it will bring to light the severity of the problem or opportunity and get the prospect excited about finding a solution. P.S. if you are having trouble finding high quality promotional items try checking out Unique Embroidery.
4. Have The Prospect Determine The Value Having The Problem Solved Or The Opportunity Captured
In order to get a prospect to buy it is critical to get them to think that the value of what they are buying is worth more than what they are paying. If you can do this, making a sale becomes much easier. To have a buyer determine the value of a solution, product or service, often they need a little help. A great way is to ask them to put a dollar figure to having a particular problem solved. Sometimes you can also ask how much time they could save and then follow this up by how much their time is worth, which could be either what their hourly wage is or what they intrinsically value their time at. You could also ask how much money your particular product or service will save or make them. Be creative, and try to put a value figure to all benefits as their could be many benefits. The more valuable you can make the product or service to be perceived the higher chance you will be able to close the sale. Be honest though in your discussion, if you over exaggerate or lie about the value of the benefits it will come back to haunt you in the future in the form of unsatisfied customers and a bad reputation. The idea is to ask questions that will help direct them to a place where they have put an appropriate dollar figure on the value of the solution, product or service you are selling.
5. Share Outcomes
Once you have convinced the prospect of the immense value of your service it is time to remove any concerns or doubts about your ability to deliver what you are promising. The best way to do this is to give specific examples of how you have been able to help other companies. For example when I am discussing office coffee with prospects, for my customer Gold Roast, I sometimes tell them about Elanco. Elanco was looking for better tasting coffee as some of the coffee they had tasted like soap and often they would run out of supplies or have machine problems. Therefore they were also looking to upgrade the service they received. We gave them a free trial and then removed it as they wanted to try a 3rd supplier. Well the employee's requested that the "good" coffee be brought back...that is how much they liked Gold Roast's coffee. Since setting Elanco up they have not run out of stock or had a single machine problem. Gold Roast gave them better tasting coffee and better service.
Using examples like the above will do wonders for removing the doubts or hesitations from a buyer. The more specific the example the better. The more well know the company is that you us in your example the better. The more recent the story, the better. If you use stories that are specific, recent and involved well known companies, sharing outcomes can get you the order on the spot.
6. Get Commitment To Next Steps
It is critical to get commitment to next steps because humans are hard wired to do things that they tell people they are going to do. If there is no agreement to do anything at the end of the meeting it makes it very easy for the prospect to do nothing, on the other hand if they have made a verbal agreement to do something that commitment will stick in the mind of the prospect.
Try to get commitment to the most valuable commitment you can. For example, if you can get commitment to an order, try for that over getting commitment to another meeting. Prospects are more likely to commit to things when it is in the heat of the moment and they are thinking and discussing it. It will be much harder to get a commitment when you follow-up in a few days or a week. Make the most of the conversation you are having and get a commitment to as much as you can. Be sure to check my blog next week as I will be writing and article with tips on how to get commitment.
7. Send A Follow Up Communication
To display that you are organized and professional, send a note summarizing the meeting and the next steps immediately after the meeting. This will keep you top of mind, deepen the relationship, keep things moving along and also give both you a your prospect a paper trial to refer to if you forget. The more communication you have with the prospect the better.
A great example of this was from a meeting I had 2 weeks ago on behalf of my customer Packetworks. They provide internet service to companies located almost anywhere in Ontario, Canada. We were meeting with a local company to discuss if they would be interested in purchasing internet services from Packetworks. After the meeting I sent a note summarizing what was discussed, the concerns we needed to provide additional information on, and what were the next steps. As a result we got further communications from the prospect over email until the email trail concluded with them asking to purchase wireless internet service from Packetworks.
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My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. If you are interested in generating new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.
I hope this article on how to run a successful sales meeting was helpful to you. Thanks for reading and happy selling.