Last week, I was at an important meeting with a prospect that I had been trying to speak to for some time. We came in with a prepared agenda for a group of 12 people we had never met before. The meeting went exactly as planned. By the end they were discussing with each other how they could integrate us into their next event and sharing success stories with each other about the last time they attended a Dale Carnegie event. These are all strong buying signals! This was a well-executed meeting.
Unfortunately, many sales people miss the mark with their meetings. This problem is typically an organizational issue. Companies create a canned presentation PowerPoint that focuses on the products, services or applications that they sell. They tell the sales people to follow the presentation. They talk a lot about themselves and spend little time talking about what the customer needs. This highlights the difference between selling and order taking. Every situation is different and canned presentations won’t give us the ability to use a discovery process. To truly sell in a meeting we have to start with a strong BASE. You have to prepare an agenda that will create a buying atmosphere.
Here is the BASE needed to create a successful agenda:
Benefit – When planning the meeting, think from the prospects point of view. What do they need to get out of this meeting for it to be worth their time? After the typical pleasantries and rapport building, this should be how you open the meeting. An example of this would be, “We are here today to share some ideas that can assist your National Account Managers to increase your average transaction size from under $5 Million to the $10-$15 Million range. We will explore ways to equip and support them in targeting mid-tier businesses with appropriate credit ratings. This will, in turn help you achieve your bank goal of growing and increasing profitability.” The prospect now knows what the benefit of the meeting is to them.
Agenda – Next, it is important to lay out a structured agenda so prospects are open and willing to discuss their world. These agenda points should not be about your company or products. Here is an example:
The proposed agenda will include:
• Discuss goals for the National Account Manager Team
• Identify possible areas of support for National Account Manager Team to expand their mid-tier customer base
• Explore support for part-time and full-time sales teams
• If appropriate, discuss how you can help meet their objectives
• Determine the next step
Step – Finally, ask a question to make sure that everything the prospect wanted from the meeting is being covered. This would sound like, “Is there anything you would like to add to the agenda before we begin?”
Engage – Encourage them to talk with a follow up question. An example of this would be, “Do you mind if we start by asking you a few questions?”
Many sales representatives skip these steps and pummel the prospect with questions from the start. This will quickly put the prospect on the defensive. You can easily tell if you are guilty of this by thinking of your last few meetings. Were your prospects openly giving you all the information you needed to help them achieve their goals?
When you use a strong BASE for your meeting agendas, you will Sell Like A Professional!
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