A young account manager asked my advice recently about how to handle his first meeting with a particular prospect. It was memorable because the seller who got the first appointment admitted he was surprised this big prospect gave him an appointment at all… and now he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with it.
I started by asking what Valid Business Reason he used to gain the prospect’s interest and attention. Turns out the VBR was “okay,” but not great… focusing a little too much on the product the seller was hoping to pitch, and only slightly on a community service initiative that he thought might appeal to the prospect. But it was the latter that got the CEO’s attention and got the salesperson this appointment.
So, we went online to explore the prospect’s website and learned what we could about the organization’s community involvement. Studying their efforts led us to understand the prospect’s passions. We spent a little time browsing the site further, for other press releases and to get an idea of what the company’s priorities were (based on the way the website was designed). Then a quick stop at LinkedIn revealed some of the CEO’s additional accomplishments and a visit to his Facebook page shed light on his personal interests.
The accomplishments and personal interests were used to create comfort for the needs analysis appointment, and the company’s priorities and public service efforts were the basis for several needs analysis questions. Sounds simple, right?
It’s funny how often we talk to sellers who spend 80% of their time worried because they haven’t been able to get an appointment. And 20% of their time worried that they did!
To get your meeting prep underway, refer back to the things that got you the appointment in the first place. Then probe for a wide variety of potential needs, constantly mindful of the ones that appear to be of highest priority to the prospect. You need not have all the answers for this first meeting. You need only to have a lot of the right questions. Live up to the Valid Business Reason that got you in, and then build from there.