Booking a meeting with a prospect is a sweet victory, but don’t celebrate yet. Increase your chances of winning the business by knowing the who, when, where, what, and why before walking into any sales meeting.
It’s time to think beyond the name and title of prospects and dig into their personality. You have exchanged emails with your prospect and/or spoken with them over the phone. These conversations set the groundwork for making a real connection. A meeting is just a more intimate continuation of this ongoing conversation and a chance to gain the prospect’s trust.
According to Hoover’s 5 Ways, Salespeople Can Build Trust with Prospects, relatability can show a prospect of genuine interest, leading to gaining their trust. To ensure any salesperson comes across as relatable, I suggest this list of things to consider before the big meeting:
What’s the company’s dress code?
Walking into a meeting wearing a black suit and tie when the prospect is wearing cargo shorts and no shoes is visible proof that you aren’t on the same page. This is a real-life example of what happened to me when I first started as a business development associate. Don’t make the same mistake I did and ask the question.
What’s the prospect’s vision for the future?
I like to find out how the prospect talks about their industry and plans for the future. Asking if they have any concerns with their industry or aspects of the industry that excite them gives you insight into their pain points so remember their answer, you’ll need it.
How many people will be at the meeting?
When bringing a proposal (or any business collateral to a meeting) make sure you bring enough for everyone.
What are the prospect’s position in the company and their role in the project?
Fully understanding everyone’s role allows you to directly address them when speaking about an aspect of the engagement that will require their participation.
The When & Where
People are busy. The last thing a salesperson wants is to be perceived as another item on a prospect’s to-do list that they don’t have time for. A sales meeting should not be adding any unnecessary stress to a prospect’s life. Do some homework before attempting to schedule the meeting and offer options for date, time, and place that align with their schedule. This is another opportunity to show a prospect their best interest is a priority so ask these questions and bring value to the table at the first meeting.
When is the most convenient time for you to meet?
The prospect chooses the time, place, and location, we layout options for them to ease the decision-making process.
When does the meeting start and end?
Stick to a predetermined start and end time. Stay flexible if the prospect needs to re-schedule but do not waiver from the scheduled time. Fulfilling small promises during interactions with potential clients, like ending a meeting when it was scheduled to end, builds trust, and brings the deal one step closer to closing.
Where to position yourself in the room?
Don’t make the mistake of sitting in the boss’s chair but make a conscious effort to find a space that allows you to make eye contact with everyone in the room.
How long will it take to travel to the meeting location?
Be early and plan for hiccups along the way.
Showing up at the scheduled time is another small step toward gaining a prospect’s trust.
The What & Why
Both parties should know what service or product can offer at the time a meeting is scheduled. The meeting should be used to clearly explain what aspects of their business will affect and what level of collaboration is expected from the various members of a prospect’s team. There is a good chance a prospect will be looking at a few companies to work with so bring real value to the conversation. Know the answers to these questions and leave nothing on the table:
What concerns or excites the prospect about their industry?
It is absolutely necessary to come prepared with ideas for real initiatives that will seize an opportunity or solve a problem that excites and concerns a prospect. Remembering the prospect’s vision for the future and directly addressing why your product or service is the best solution to get them there once again builds a prospect’s trust.
What will be discussed in the meeting?
Share a meeting agenda and objectives with the prospect and their team so that everyone is prepared to discuss the topic at hand. Quality work goes beyond deliverables and core service offerings; successful planning and communication in these initial meetings speak directly to how a company will operate during an engagement.
What aspects of a client’s business will be impacted by implementing the product or service?
Be prepared to answer any questions about your prospect’s participation in the engagement. Reference the initial objectives outlined for the project and explain how these objectives will be achieved.
What steps will be taken after the meeting to move the deal forward?
Ease the decision-making process by laying out a clear plan for kicking off the project. The goal is to make a prospect feel they are in good hands and trust that the proposed scope will be complete to their specifications.
Preparing for meetings with these 12 questions will leave you feeling confident and give your potential client a new perspective on their business. Now it’s time to come back to the one question that really matters. Did I close the deal?