Updated: Jul 19, 2019
Over many years of working with and observing sales people preparing for prospect client meetings, the only thing that is certain in this process is that every sales person does it differently and the vast majority do not prepare well enough.
It is a very common problem for a sales person to become less and less focussed on quality preparation, the more experienced they become. It’s almost as if they become so sure of their own sales abilities that they feel less need to prepare and perhaps even decide to ‘wing it’ when they get to the meeting. I’ve witnessed many sales people just look at the prospect’s website, get some directions, pick up their brochure and price list and head out of the door!
For me, comprehensive and consistent preparation is key to the success of any sales meeting. Going through some simple, yet effective preparation processes can tip the scales firmly in the sales person’s favour and dramatically increase the chances of a successful outcome.
Here are some tips:
Make sure your customer research goes beyond what is written on their website. Build a more comprehensive picture of their business and especially of the person you are meeting.
Arrange a 15-minute fact find call with your prospect, to gain some insight into their business and potential needs. This will enable you to prepare more comprehensively and to gain some insight into your prospect’s personality and behaviour.
In addition to the usual resources that you may take to a meeting – brochures, business cards, price lists etc, think also about preparing resources that will help you build trust and credibility.
Create and print case studies from previous customers to leave with your prospect. This can be especially powerful if your prospect has the same need/problem to solve as the customer in the case study. Take feedback and testimonials, too.
Photographs of products can be far more powerful than written descriptions, especially pictures of the product being used by a customer.
Perhaps even create a draft proposal of your ideas as to how your product or service could be used by the customer, just as an example around which to base a conversation.
Preparing the customer for the meeting is as important as preparing yourself. Agree an agenda for the meeting, along with timings and location, detailing the steps in the discussion. This helps the prospect to understand how the meeting will flow and enables you to keep control of the process.
In addition to the agenda, agree a goal for the meeting. Is this just about fact finding and relationship building or is it about cementing a transaction? Make sure that both you and the customer agree the same goal for the discussion. This will create an atmosphere of partnership and collaboration and will increase your chances of achieving your goals.
Finally, make sure you are properly prepared, mentally and physically.
Are you in the right frame of mind? Do you feel motivated? Have you prepared your questions and have an idea of how you will handle your customer’s questions and objections?
Do you have the energy to be passionate about your product and to enthuse your customer? Even simple things such as eating well and drinking will have an impact on your energy levels and therefore on the way you come across during the meeting.
In summary, if you take more care and time over preparing effectively for a sales appointment, you will dramatically increase your chances of success, improving your conversion rates and reducing the number of prospects needed to achieve your targets. All of this adds up to more sales, more profit and more commission or bonus!