Getting the Client Meeting right
Let’s assume we’ve got the basics covered – you’ve set the appointment up correctly – the right amount of time has been allocated, a room has been booked, you’re there in plenty of time, you look professional in terms of your appearance and you’ve bought the right literature and materials with you.
So now the next steps – conducting the meeting in the right manner in order to maximise your chances of winning the business.
Before you start, it’s important to know that you’ll not win every piece of business and even the best sales people you can think of have had meetings that have gone badly, but there are key aspects that you need to get right.
You can try too hard to make an impression with somebody new. The key is remaining professional and neutral to start and take an interest in them – their role, their organisation and their location. You may want to have some initial questions up your sleeve to help you break the ice. It’s important that the initial conversation is positive, even if you’ve sat in traffic for the last 2 hours, because you don’t want to start the meeting with a negative tone.
Try to adopt the 70/30 rule when it comes to your conversation with the prospective client – you listen for 70% of the time and try not to speak yourself more than 30%. By doing this you’ll get to understand their requirements sooner. The key to this is asking informed ‘open’ questions and giving the person you are meeting with ample time to give their answers.
Once you’re aware of the current challenges that they face then you can highlight the features and benefits of your products or services that address these. Don’t spend time on aspects that don’t appear to be relevant to the discussion you have been having. You can state that they exist, but concentrate on what they want to hear and the pains that you can help solve.
Everyone likes to know that other clients are using the features you have demonstrated and gaining benefit from them. “Client A are using that product in a similar way to you and they’ve seen a significant increase in……” It helps build confidence and gives you immediate credibility.
Yes, you are there to win their business, but if you focus too much on that then you run the risk of appearing too forceful if you always have the close in mind. Remember this is the initial meeting and you will have opportunities to position other products and services to them later down the line once you have built a relationship with them. The purpose of that meeting is to identify their needs and allow them to build confidence in your solutions.
This doesn’t mean try to sell them little things! Simply gaining their agreement on a point goes someway to building trust. Focusing on lots of little ‘yeses’ can help you get to the big ‘yes’ so bare that in mind in your conversation. Depending upon your product or service then you may also want to consider smaller commitments to get you moving – a trial or a demonstration might be the crucial step to get you to your ultimate goal.
The onus will always be on you with regards to next steps, even if you need the prospective client to do something. “I’ll arrange a trial and I’ll call you in a week’s time to see how you are getting on with it”. By giving a realistic timetable, you will be establishing a clear plan with them to get to a position to close. Get their approval on the next steps during that meeting and by doing this you know that those actions have been accepted without pestering them.
Every salesperson wants to make a success of their first client meeting. Armed with the appropriate knowledge and meeting strategies there should be nothing to worry about. We have developed a number of e-learning modules at Maguire Training to cover these key aspects from Building Rapport Quickly to Gaining Agreement & Commitment. As these are delivered online they are a convenient and cost-effective way to learn and can be accessed by your sales people when they most need them.