Up to half of potential customers are more likely to conduct business with your company if you’re the first person to respond to their inquiry. Of course, a response isn’t a sale (but wouldn’t that make your life so much easier?), it’s the first important step to closing the deal, also known as a discovery meeting. You’ll then need to hold a sales meeting with the prospect to get yourself over the finish line. And with the below sales meeting preparation tips, you’ll be set to rank among that 35 to 50 percent of successes.
Tips for sales meeting preparation
Sales meetings are more likely to prove successful if you take the below steps:
- Do your research
- Come ready with questions
- Decide on your sales tactics
- Hold a practice meeting
- Finalize your pitch
- Write a meeting agenda
- Leave space for follow-up actions
- Get your team ready
1 Do your research
A successful sale requires you to convince decision-makers that your product or service will provide a significant return on investment (ROI). To make the case, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of the client’s industry and unique value proposition. Only with this context can you consider yourself successfully prepared to close the deal.
To give yourself this context, scour the client’s website, blog posts, and social media pages. There, you can learn about the company’s story, goals, services, and products, all of which tell you how you can step in and make an impact. You should also look at the individual LinkedIn pages of the individuals with whom you’ll be meeting. This way, you’ll know who’s in the room with you, why they’re there, and how you can appeal to them.
Next, take a broad look at the client’s market and their space within it. This will allow you to assess their growth potential and customer base. When you know how serving a certain set of consumers could lead to expansion, you can fit your own products and services into that story. The result can be a more successful sales meeting.
2 Come ready with questions
After you research your sales prospect, you’ll likely be left with questions. That’s a good thing! It indicates that you’ve been researching your potential client and you’re curious about their business. Before your meeting, prepare these and other questions. The questions should be open-ended and geared toward getting the prospect to go super in-depth about their needs.
You should always ask about the prospect’s budget, ideal vendor, and what they’ve been unable to obtain from others who provide services like yours. You should also be prepared to show that you can do what’s needed within budget while addressing the concerns they’ve laid out. Doing so puts you in a unique position to be chosen as the one to solve the problem.
3 Decide on your sales tactics
Your sales process might vary by prospect, but one thing that remains relatively constant is your company’s history and offerings. In fact, your success stories, products, and services should form the basis of a successful sales pitch. The question, though, is: Which success stories, products, and services will prove most persuasive?
If your client prioritizes constant communication, share a case study involving a client for whom your regular conversations proved the key to success. For clients who prioritize efficiency in their work, explain how your services have saved several other companies both time and money. Your choice of sales stories and tactics should pertain so obviously to your client’s needs that there’s virtually no question you can do the job.
4 Hold a practice meeting
Researching prospects and coming up with questions can feel nerve-wracking. What if you’ve missed something obvious? What if you don’t ask your questions the right way? That’s where practice meetings come in.
To fully prepare for your meeting, hold a practice session during which someone on your team plays the prospect and you remain the salesperson. Present your pitch as though you’re attending the actual meeting. Don’t hesitate to use slideshows or other supplementary visualizations that clearly convey your angle. Watch your pretend prospect’s body language as you speak, then adjust your tone to achieve the reaction you desire.
At the end of the meeting – and after you and the pretend client have run through all your questions – review everything you’ve done. Did your colleague, posing as the client, find your presentation boring or unpersuasive? Were your talking points effective, or is a new angle necessary? Were you effectively setting the tone you hoped for or did you fall flat? Acting it out can turn up potential problem areas in ways unlike other sales meeting preparation methods.
5 Finalize your pitch
Once you’ve done a trial run, you’re ready to finalize your pitch. Revise your pitch based on what did and didn’t go well in your practice run, then share it with someone else for additional review. Ideally, this person will be someone mostly unfamiliar with your sales process so that you can get unbiased feedback. Ask this person to determine whether the language you use, information you share, and points you make are consistent, logical, and compelling.
Once your pitch returns from this peer review, you should look at it one final time before meeting with the prospect. As you do, be sure that it addresses all of the prospect’s potential needs and clearly distinguishes your company as the solution to those problems. This way, you give the client all the information they need to make their decision. And if you play your cards right, the decision will be to move forward with your company.
6 Write a meeting agenda
With your pitch finalized, it’s time to transform your action plan into a meeting schedule that keeps the conversation relevant and on track. You can do so through a meeting agenda that lists each part of the meeting, the specific time at which it will happen, and how long the part will last. Your agenda should also state when the meeting starts, the type of meeting (such as face-to-face, phone, or video call), and the names of all attendees present.
You should distribute your agenda beforehand to everyone on your sales team who’s attending the meeting. This way, your team can identify potential gaps in your procession and identify potential prospect questions you hadn’t thought to answer in your research. You can also send your meeting agenda to your prospects, but doing so too early can pull back the curtain too far. Instead, wait until shortly before the meeting to share your agenda with prospects.
In doubling as event guidance and a double-check on your research, meeting agendas prove themselves among the most effective ways to get prepared for your sales meetings. You can quickly create one with meeting agenda templates to make your sales meeting preparation go faster.
Use a meeting management tool like Fellow to create collaborative meeting agendas to share with the team or a potential client to ensure alignment.
7 Leave space for follow-up actions in your agenda and meeting
It’s easy to think of meetings as the single moment when your team answers all the questions in front of it. In reality, it’s not quite so simple. Inevitably, your meetings will lead to unforeseen questions and needs that you’ll need to handle after, not during, the meeting. That’s why you should leave ample space in your agenda for meeting action items.
As you prepare your agenda, determine which sections might be most likely to require follow-up after the meeting. This way, you and your team go into things knowing that some parts of the meeting may require immediate follow-up. Knowing so beforehand prevents stress from arising during the meeting.
8 Get your team ready
At this point, you’ve considered most of what could come up at your sales meeting and made a plan to persuasively address it in front of your prospects. Your planning could be all for naught if your team doesn’t feel excited about the sale.
No, you don’t want to hammer your prospects over the head with enthusiasm, but you do want to get your sales team pumped for the occasion. A team that goes in with excitement is much more likely to make your offerings pop than one taking a dry, rote approach. So remind your team that every shot at making a sale is a potential new opportunity rather than something to fear. A clear, enthusiastic, persuasive presentation – and a new client – can result.
Now make the sale!
Sales meeting preparation starts with research, continues with rehearsal and pitch refinement, and concludes with a streamlined agenda that guides meaningful conversations. This path from first identifying a prospect toward formally stating your case can be lengthy, but the tips above will certainly make it less stressful. And with Fellow, you can convert your action plan into a robust agenda and assign action items that help transform your sales meetings into results.