When a sales manager asks, “What does the client or prospect expect from this meeting?” too often salespeople say something like, “I don’t really know, but I definitely need to ask them some questions about their business.”
We spend so much of our time working to get the appointment, and then we fail to make sure the appointment will produce a successful sales meeting. What a missed opportunity!
It’s tough to get that first appointment these days, so don’t waste it!
You do need to ask questions about a prospect's business, but you need to do your research first. It is crucial that you have an understanding of the prospect’s expectations for the meeting before you get there. This ensures a quality meeting in which both you and the client get what you need from your time together.
Here are five ways to make sure you have a great meeting with your client or prospect:
- When you're setting the appointment, don't be in a hurry to get off the phone or out the door. Ask the prospect what he or she hopes to accomplish in the meeting.
- Make sure you have asked for enough time to get through the agenda. You don't want to run out of time before you're finished, and you don't want the prospect to cut you off to get to another appointment when you're not expecting it.
- Ask why the prospect agreed to meet with you. Knowing his or her motivation to meet will give you valuable insight into the priorities you need to address.
- Send the agenda to the prospect in advance. You want your prospect to be prepared to answer questions, and you want him or her to know what to expect
- Start the meeting by re-confirming why you are there, and ask if there is anything else to add to the agenda.
Contracting and partnering for a great meeting are tremendously important when building a professional relationship with a potential client. Your prospect sees plenty of "pitch people" every day. This is your opportunity to separate yourself from the rest and develop a customer for life.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 30, 2010 and has been updated.