How To Prepare For And Run Successful Sales Meetings

Many sales people waste time with people that are not empowered to decide on or purchase the products or services they sell. Meeting with the right senior executives is one of the best ways to accelerate your time to success with your customers. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that each of these meetings are worthwhile for the executives you meet with.

If you demonstrate that you can help that person/company in one way or another, you will have a much greater probability to quickly identify and close new sales opportunities. Conversely, if your meeting is a total waste of time for that executive, you certainly will prolong and potentially destroy any sales opportunities you had, and it’ll likely ruin your chances for a subsequent meeting. The following are the top 10 steps you really should complete before, during, and after your meetings so they are both productive and valuable for your customers:

Be familiar with the executive(s) with whom you are meeting. With a little bit of research, you can usually learn a good amount of important information regarding your customer and should understand where they’ve worked before, the areas of success they’ve enjoyed, special interests they might have, groups they are part of, and other common contacts they might have with you or other people in your company.

Understand their role and responsibilities. The easiest way to get this information is to ask others you know within their department/division, or at a minimum, search the web site for executive profiles, presentations they may have done, or articles they’ve written. Knowing this can help you to build credibility by referencing it during your meeting, and ultimately enable you to figure out how your products would map to their interests and initiatives.

Schedule the right resources to join you and be sure they are briefed and prepared before hand. Make sure that anyone you bring is well aware of the above items as well as the agenda including their role and any of the topics they are to cover. Role play before the meeting to be sure everyone knows who, when, and how they are expected to participate.

Share your agenda with your customer before hand and confirm who else will attend. By doing so, you can be certain that the topics you intend to cover are relevant while soliciting input for other areas or topics they’re interested in. This straightforward step provides you with the chance to change course if your initial agenda missed the mark, and enable you to reach out to other executives you weren’t aware were asked to join.

Prepare an executive summary presentation or discussion document to follow during your meeting. Don’t just wing it. Having a professional looking document or presentation will demonstrate that you have invested time preparing, will help guide your discussion to be sure very important points are covered, and shall prove that you care and appreciate your customer’s time.

Complete proper introductions. Always make sure that everyone introduces themselves, and ask them to describe their role and responsibilities, and convey any particular areas they would like to cover and what they need to get out of the meeting. Be sure you also briefly describe what if any relationship exists, and how and where both organizations have worked together previously. This is usually a easy way to break the ice and build instant credibility for you and also your company. Don’t assume the folks in the room have an understanding of any prior relationships or successes.

Review the agenda items up front and confirm the amount of time you have for the meeting. Ask your customer to prioritize your topics and determine any others that need to be covered before jumping in. This ensures you review the most important items first, and less important ones last or not at all if you run out of time.

Ask open ended, relevant questions, and listen carefully and take notes. Make sure your valuable time is not wasted with you or your team doing all of the talking. The best way to identify new sales opportunities is to understand your customers challenges and how your products and solutions can help them. Don’t make the mistake of jumping into a hard core sales pitch before you have had the opportunity to clearly identify the value add you can provide. Periodically pause during the meeting and ask your customer if the content being reviewed is important and is resonating with them. If not, switch onto another more important subject.

Before the meeting ends, recap the items covered and determine next steps. Set aside time to briefly review and prioritize what you covered along with any action items that were agreed to. You should get concurrence for follow up meetings, and determine the focus areas along with any other individuals that should participate. Solicit feedback from all attendees to determine on the spot if they received the value they expected and covered the topics they were most interested in. Ask for guidance on how you can improve the next time.

Deliver what you promised. Subsequent to the meeting, it’s critical that you follow through on what you said you’d do. Send a thank you note to all that attended and document the action items and deliver any information you promised. The additional value you can add begins once the meeting ends. You should also call each of the customers that attended to receive their feedback. Very often in an open forum, individuals will not chime in during the meeting and might have valuable information to mention in a private setting.

By completing these 10 steps, you will greatly improve your executive sales meetings, and prove to your customers that you are a very valuable resource for them.

Check here for more free information about Proven Sales Tips and Popular Sales Techniques. By Paul M. Balzano

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