In this series, I take you through eight key steps to plan your B2B sales meetings in a way that sets you apart from the competition.
By building continuous momentum, providing value, and advancing sales at each step, you will ultimately get more (and faster) closed business.
Preparation is the secret to closing sales – and it needs to happen for every encounter with a prospect. Before each meeting, answer three key questions:
Why should this client meet with me?
What do I want my client to do?
How can I provide value in this encounter?
Step 4: Set your goals and agenda
“Hope is not a strategy.” – Rick Page
It’s crucial to be clear about what you want to achieve in the overall sales opportunity – as well as in each sales encounter.
When asked what their objective is for an individual sales encounter, most people say “to close the sale”. However, the typical sales cycle involves 4-10 sales encounters. For more complex products/ services, it might be even longer.
So, closing the sale is a feasible goal only towards the end of the sales cycle. Saying that you want to “close the sale” during an early meeting is unrealistic.
Other people go into a meeting thinking, “I’ll engage the prospect, then let’s just see where it goes. Hopefully something will happen!”
That’s not really a strategy – it’s a shot in the dark. If you don’t even know your real goal for the meeting, how can you possibly hope to achieve it?
Take a more intentional, organized approach towards sales by developing clear goals for individual sales encounters – which are separate from your objective for the overall sales opportunity.
Ask yourself, “What is the desired outcome of my upcoming encounter with this person/ group?”
Once you are clear about your goal, the best way to ensure a productive meeting is to develop a solid agenda for it. This ensures that the time invested has a valuable return for everyone involved.
Aim for a win-win scenario in which you achieve your personal goal as well as deliver great value to your prospect.
A meeting agenda offers a ton of benefits:
It positions you as a true professional.
It defines objectives, sets expectations, and shows attendees why they need to be there.
It gives structure to the conversation and allows you to reserve time for important topics, such as establishing next steps.
It gives you a concrete way to measure the success of the meeting.
Set an agenda for every single sales meeting, keeping the focus on the prospect’s stated interests. Share and confirm your agenda with the prospect, and make sure it meets their expectations.
While creating your agenda, consider these questions:
What is the meeting’s main purpose from my prospect’s point of view?
What specific directives or expectations does my prospect have for this meeting?
Who are the participants, and what are their individual objectives?
Also think about the way you will position yourself:
How will I open the meeting?
What strengths do I bring to this opportunity?
What might the prospect consider to be my weaknesses?
What can I do to increase my credibility?
How will I demonstrate my understanding of the prospect’s current situation and challenges?
Your agenda should include three key elements:
1. Logistics: The date, start and end time, location and invitees of your meeting.
2. Meeting objective: State the purpose of the meeting in a single sentence, if possible. It should be:
Stated from the client’s perspective.
Focused on the outcomes they want to achieve.
Specific enough to keep the meeting focused, yet also broad enough to engage all attendees.
For example: “Discuss strategies for growing business despite challenges with low customer engagement” or “Review implications of 100% cloud deployment”.
3. Items: These are the “meat” of your agenda – the topics you plan to discuss, in the appropriate sequence. They show why your attendees are there and help to keep your meeting on track.