If you've been in sales for a while you're probably a pro when it comes to making cold calls, but it’s never a good idea to go into a meeting actually cold. To ensure you have the most productive meeting possible before meeting a new client, you're going to have to do some research. In-person meetings require even more preparation as even subtle communication cues can throw off the entire process. Keep reading for eight pre-meeting tips that will help you generate a better business relationship moving forward.
1. Become Familiar with Faces
Don’t look like a lost lamb if you’re meeting someone at their office or in a coffee shop for the first time. Walk in with confidence and show them that you’ve done your research. There’s nothing worse than asking around for your prospective client as they watch you from the other side of the room. Contact data merged with social profile photos in your address book can help you identify clients visually so you can recognize them before a meeting.
2. Figure Out a Few Interests
Don’t start a relationship with a new client by engaging in chit chat. Figure out what your client's interests are and what the client's company actually does so you know how your business can support them in advance. When you can speak to their core interests and pain points, you’ll do less “selling” as they’ll be eager to buy what you’re offering. Use social profiles to gage interests and company profile information to determine industry topics to discuss.
3. Anticipate Next Steps
At some point in a relationship, you'll feel like it's time to ask for a sale, so you need to know the next steps in advance of your meeting to keep the momentum going. What is the objective of your meeting? Create a roadmap for your conversation so that you can anticipate what to say and how to continue the relationship after the first meeting. Even if you don’t stick to the script, you’ll have a plan to fall back on if you get stuck.
4. Preload or Print Helpful Materials
If your client needs any print or digital materials to enhance their internal sales process, print out or queue up everything beforehand. Then you won't have to shuffle through old papers or open up your company’s website during the meeting. Being too prepared is better than being underprepared, so remove any unnecessary stress from the conversation and plan ahead.
5. Identify Other Connections
Some clients might want to jump straight into business while others like to banter for a bit before getting down to specifics. Do some research on the person you’re meeting to see if you have any common connections, like your alma mater. If you do, this could be something great to subtly bring up in conversation to help build rapport.
6. Know The Competition
Spend time researching your client's main competitors. This will help you understand their company better and provide you with ways you can help their company stand out. This will also give you a good perspective of what makes their products and services unique. Plus, if you know their business better than them, you'll definitely gain some trust and appreciation.
7. Ask Questions But Plan to Listen More Than You Talk
You can always print out a list of questions that will help you dive into a conversation with your contact. However, it’s more effective to have a few key questions memorized so you can insert them naturally into the conversation. Don't make the meeting feel like an interview. Instead, try to guide the conversation towards the topics related to your questions and plan to let your client do most of the talking.
8. Brainstorm Possible Rejection Scenarios
Rejection scenarios are points of friction that can derail potential sales. These can be weak points in your product or potential fears your client might have about working with you. Spend some time brainstorming what these might be and see if you can find ways to anticipate and plan for them before your meeting.
By effectively preparing for your meetings—whether they're in-person or over the phone—you'll have a much greater chance of converting a new client. Make the process easier on yourself and your newfound confidence will be reflected in the strength of your pitch.