There’s nothing more exciting or terrifying than a sales meeting. On one side, you’re happy someone has shown interest in your product. On the other, the pressure can manifest as anxiety and an uncomfortable sensation in your stomach.
Ultimately, the goal of every sales meeting is to close the deal or move it toward that result. To do so, it’s important to know how and when to talk about your solution and your company. Remember, you’re not selling to businesses, you’re selling to people.
Knowing when to unleash that sales pitch is what makes sales pros … well, pros. So, how do you know when it’s that perfect time? Fortunately, there’s something I like to call the “master tip” for closing more deals. It works under any circumstance -- regardless of your industry or product -- and it’s a personal sales meeting agenda.
What is a sales meeting agenda?
Within the context of this article, a sales meeting agenda is not something you’d share with a prospect. It’s a personal meeting outline helping you stay on message, organized, and perfectly timed. It should be flexible enough to move with the flow of conversation, and firm enough that it keeps you on track.
To begin, decide when the right time will be to make your sales pitch during the conversation. It’s important to identify this ahead of time, so you don’t rush the conversation and risk losing the deal. Here are my tips for building a personal sales meeting agenda:
Sales Meeting Agenda
Stop waiting for the “right time” to make your sales pitch - Decide when you’re going to pitch and stick with it.
Make your prospect the right kind of uncomfortable - Throughout your meeting, highlight the shortcomings that led your prospect to set the meeting in the first place.
Establish needs and pain points - Determine which questions to ask to establish prospect needs and pain points.
Don’t ignore the transitions - Make sure each transition to a new subject is gentle and natural.
Help prospects realize their need for your product/service - Ask questions that allow the prospect to come to their own realization about your product/service.
Ask questions that make your prospect want to hear your pitch - This is usually one final question the prospect couldn’t possibly say “no” to.
Pitch - You’ve put in the time to organize your meeting, now reap the rewards with a natural pitch.
Decide what you’ll ask and when you’ll ask it. Create a master sales meeting agenda and tweak it for each meeting you attend. It will ensure you’re always prepared, organized, and moving the deal forward.
Step 1. Stop waiting for the “right time” to make your sales pitch
One of the biggest problems with sales reps today is they rely too much on rapport. Yes, it’s important you and your prospect understand each other, but that’s not enough to close the deal.
If you want to make friends as a salesperson, that’s fine. But if you want to start making more clients, you need to design a sales meeting agenda that takes the product presentation in the right direction.
This transforms your strategy’s focus from “timing” to “build up.”
Once you know when to make your pitch, you can craft the rest of your meeting agenda to support it.
Step 2. Make your prospect the right kind of uncomfortable
When the whole smarketing process focuses on the client’s needs and goals, the idea of deliberately making your prospect feel uncomfortable might sound counterintuitive -- but it makes perfect sense.
Buying is an emotional decision backed by logic. You make a purchase when you want and need something, right? Not necessarily.
Take exercise, for example. Scientists have been preaching the benefits of working out for decades. But most people don’t do it, even though they want to look good and be healthy.
Even though humans need exercise to lead healthy lives, many of us are fine with our current situation. In our heads, exercising is a waste of money or time -- until something breaks the status quo.
That break might be a medical issue or the desire to attract a partner. Whatever the reason, suddenly our outlook changes and we need to do something about it.
This presents the perfect time for a gym owner to discuss current membership discounts and the benefits of joining today.
As a sales rep, part of your job is making prospects realize they need to change -- and that your product is the best way to get started.
Step 3. Determine needs and pain points
If you did your homework, you’re going to have a lot of information about the people you’re meeting with and the company they represent.
So, in the first part of the meeting, your goal should be to determine their needs and pain points.
Maybe you’ve detected some during the research, but your prospect might have called you for other reasons.
Most of the times, you’ll meet managers and C-Level executives who are experts in putting pressure on salespeople. Don’t fall for it and start talking about you and your company immediately. First, probe for more information. Ask questions like:
“What is the company’s goal with this project?”
“How would my service or product affect the company’s operations?”
“What are your personal and professional goals?”
“What’s the company’s situation in the market?”
“Where do they see their business in five years?”
Avoid asking “Yes” or “No” questions. You want them to talk in depth about their issues -- and asking them, “So, is this a priority for you right now?” might not be a great question to start your conversation with.
My favorite follow-up tactic is to put the idea of buying into the prospect’s mind. I’ll say, “Imagine you already bought the software. Now, tell me: What’s your ideal scenario from implementation to functionality?”
That simple line usually gets them talking about how they want to interact with our technicians and what they expect from the product.
If you do this right, you’ll know exactly what their pain points and needs are. Now, it’s time to put the finger on the wound, so to speak.
Step 4. Don’t ignore the transitions
Don’t violently go from collecting data to creating the need in the prospect’s mind. It’s thoughtless and reminds the prospect you’re a salesperson. As a result, the barriers you overcame with rapport will go back up, which complicates things.
Instead, consolidate achievements from the previous stage of the process with a transition. For example, you might say:
“Mr. John, I understand you want to increase the profitability of your operation by reducing the costs, and that you want to optimize your manufacturing processes. Is that right?”
This shows the prospect you understand and care about their situation. It also gives them a chance to bring up anything they might not have recalled before.
Step 5. Help prospects realize their own need for your help
By this time, you must know which features of your product perfectly solve their problems -- but it’s still way too soon to talk about them. Instead, continue probing for information. Here are a few questions to ask at this stage of the meeting:
“What are the obstacles you need to overcome to achieve your goals?”
“What’s the worst part of an average working day for you?”
“If you could magically change something in the operation, what would it be?”
“What feature would make you buy my product?”
“What would be nice to have?”
“When would you want to start working on this project?”
These inquiries make the prospect realize how urgent and serious the need for change is. It also allows them to re-experience the personal and professional reasons they scheduled the sales presentation with you in the first place.
Step 6. Map out one final transition before your pitch
Now’s the moment they’re ready to hear how your product will solve their problems. So, you go and start talking about the wonderful benefits your solution provides, right? Well, not yet.
Instead, one more thoughtful transition provides the final push to make them want to know what you’re offering. Something like:
“What if I told you my software could help you solve [specific problem] allowing you to achieve [specific goal] in [estimated amount of time]? Would you be interested?”
Now you can blow your prospect’s mind with a superior, affordable, and practical product.
Step 7. Pitch
Because you’ve carefully planned each part of your meeting to build and support the last, your pitch should be a natural ending to the conversation and an easy “Yes” from your prospect.
As you can see, this simple method can be applied during any sales meeting to turn the odds in your favor.
Personalize and practice your own sales meeting agenda, crafting questions and transitions in your own words until they sound natural. This ensures every interaction is meaningful, productive, and forward-moving for your deal.
Originally published Mar 12, 2018 7:30:00 AM, updated March 12 2018