Face-to-face meetings occur less today than they did 20 years ago for a myriad of reasons including but not limited to cost, time, and convenience. That said, the time for an in person meeting will almost certainly come up at some point in your life. Whether you are making a sales pitch to a potential client or meeting an existing client, these are the 5 things every salesperson should consider before their meeting:
- Know your product: Whether you’re selling mailing lists or recapping last quarter’s performance, you should know all the important talking points about that product. People don’t want to hear a laundry list of facts about your product but instead would prefer to engage in a dialogue with you about it. Why is your product better than someone else’s? What’s the benefit of working with your agency? Are numbers down across the board or only in this channel? You don’t have to know every number or sales figure. Its fine to peek at your notes but having the answers to these types of questions in advance will greatly help you either close the deal or reassure your client that they can trust you. It may sound cliché but a simple way to prepare is to put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine what they might be thinking
- Know their industry: It may seem obvious but not knowing the high level industry news of your client or potential client can easily come back to haunt you. You may think you’ve got a great idea about how they can capitalize in a certain market but if you missed the government announcement last month about stricter regulations in the Southern states and you just recommended that they invest heavily in those areas, you’ll come off looking like you don’t have their best interests in mind or worse, are too lazy to care. Subscribing to RSS feeds is a great way to stay up to date on specific industries while reading a paper (ie: BusinessWeek, DMNews) will help keep you up to date on a more general level.
- Be motivated: Speaking to people can sometimes be stressful, especially if this is a sales call or your first time meeting someone. Go in with a positive attitude, make eye contact, have a firm hand shake, and just try to generally be pleasant. If you go into a meeting with a negative demeanor then that’s the kind of feedback you’ll get in return. It’s fine to pump yourself up a bit beforehand, just ask Assistant Regional Manager Assistant to the Regional Manager; Dwight Schrute (right)
- Bring hard copies: It may seem archaic to walk into a meeting with a stack of presentations that you spent 3 hours putting together on the binding machine from 1992, especially when you can fit everything on a thumb drive but you’ll be glad you did when they tell you the smart board is down or that they can’t take outside drives. Even if you’ve confirmed with them that they will be able to present your information, do yourself a favor and print out some copies of the presentation. It may not be the most energy efficient or ‘green’ thing to do but it far outweighs the embarrassment of trying to explain the complex chart you wanted to show them without actually being able to do so.
- Manage your own expectations: Despite what Alec Baldwin’s character in Glegarry Glen Ross might tell you, not all the leads are great. You’re not going to win them all and not all meetings will go well. Don’t let one bad sales call or a meeting where the client takes out their frustrations on you stop you from continuing to move forward in the right direction. It’s kind of like golf, there are people who are terrible that continue to play that game every weekend. If you were to ask them why they keep putting themselves through that torture, most of them will give you the same answer: “It’s that one great shot you hit out of 100 which keeps me coming back”. Client meetings (and sales calls in particular) are the same way; it takes just a great one out of a 100 to keep you coming back.
Ed Bocknik II
Sr. Account Director