Monday, 12 June
Today's Topic
Meeting Preparation

Skill

One simple question that should drive all customer pitch meeting preparation is, "What’s the ONE THING I want to get out of this meeting?" Be singularly focused on what you want from your meetings.

Thorough and intelligent preparation is the lifeblood of every seller. (Not news, right?) So what are your thoughts on how the TOP 10% think about a simple concept like preparation?

First, they give it serious focus. And the TOP 10% prepare for each customer meeting the same way every time.

Indeed, many things you do in your role come under the preparation banner, but if you don’t excel at customer meeting prep, all other kinds of prep don’t matter. Whether pitching a prospect for the first time or meeting for the tenth time with a running client, one question should drive your actions: what is the ideal outcome for you and your customer from the interaction?

Preparation is a broad term. As a seller, you must prepare for lots of stuff. (You get what lots of stuff means, right?) But the time interacting with your prospects and customers requires your focused attention.

Most sellers stop preparing after ticking a few basic and standard boxes. So go ahead, and do your LinkedIn scans on data like company and role history, schools, accreditations, and shared connections. Sure, there’s juice there. But recognize the point of proper meeting prep is to learn as much as possible about your customer’s business. Note, the purpose isn’t to show off in the meeting when you regurgitate a soundbite their CEO said on CNBC, but the point is to know what they are trying to achieve.

Two main areas should drive your proper prep: who are the individuals, and what are their motivations and agendas? LinkedIn can’t answer the question about their motivations, so you must probe against that in the meeting. Second, learn about the company and its business. The TOP 10% always walk into a meeting with a broad knowledge of their business, industry, and strategic goals. If you’re calling on public companies, there’s no limit to the amount of data you can collect. When pitching private companies, it’s time to wear your detective hat and hit the streets! Ask around. Talk to your peers who know the players and the company. Dig to find as much as you can about your prospect.

Who do you think your sophisticated buyers would instead buy from? Seller A, who starts the meeting by asking many generic questions about their business, or Seller B, who arrives with a baseline of knowledge of their company?

Do

Including a line item for "issues and obstacles" on your meeting agendas will force you to ask the hard questions of your prospects and buyers. It’ll also help you qualify the opportunity.

You pay your customers the ultimate respect by running a tight meeting. There’s no other way to run a tight meeting than by using an agenda on every customer meeting.

Today, create a pre-agenda worksheet to help build your meeting agendas with customers. Open a blank sheet, and write down these titles in the A column: "Client Name," "Attendees," "Meeting goal," "MY Meeting goal," "Issues," "Questions," "Stories," and finally, "Next Steps." (Eight categories may seem like a lot, but many are simple and can be completed easily.)

Next, pick an upcoming customer meeting on your calendar and complete column B’s open cells.

You started building your pre-agenda worksheet – good for you. You’ve got your A column entries ("Client Name," "Attendees," "Meeting goal," "MY Meeting goal," "Issues," "Questions," "Stories," and finally, "Next Steps.") Good!

But you’re stuck on this "Issues" thing. ("What the heck is that?")

This section of your template represents your most significant challenge because it deals with handling objections. And objection handling takes some courage and assertiveness. No problem, you say? (Great!) Remember, permanent residency in the TOP 10% is your goal.

The Issues section is where you’ll list potential challenges, obstacles, or objections that need to be discussed in the meeting. The theory is every one of your buyers has doubts, misperceptions, or even objections, about your offering. And if you don’t proactively surface them while sitting across from your customer, they’ll rot and perhaps grow throughout the org. Good luck trying to uncover and deal with them through email.

Listing the word Issues and briefly describing them on the agenda forces you to ask about them. If it’s an exploratory meeting, your line will be something like this, "Listen, I know we’re meeting for the first time, but I promise to be transparent and direct through this process and am eager to hear all of the issues that develop which may impede our progress. Do you have any today?" In your words, of course.

Tomorrow - June 20

"Buyer, I object to your stupid objection."

Today - June 19

Didn't we JUST have a weekly sales meeting last week???

Read More

June 18

Q2 account reviews that make your mgr smile.

Read More

June 17

Whadya mean, you're not killing it right now?

Read More

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Benjamin Franklin (and made popular by John Wooden).

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