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Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 10 Steps To Guarantee Highly Effective Sales Meetings

By Paul M Balzano

Many sales people waste time with people that are not empowered to decide on or purchase the products or services they sell. Meeting with the right senior executives is one of the best ways to accelerate your time to success with your customers. Therefore, it's critical to ensure that each of these meetings are worthwhile for the executives you meet with.

If you demonstrate that you can help that person/company in one way or another, you will have a much greater probability to quickly identify and close new sales opportunities. Conversely, if your meeting is a total waste of time for that executive, you certainly will prolong and potentially destroy any sales opportunities you had, and it'll likely ruin your chances for a subsequent meeting. The following are the top 10 steps you really should complete before, during, and after your meetings so they are both productive and valuable for your customers: 

Know the executive(s) with whom you are meeting. With a little bit of research, you can typically find out a lot of important information about your customer and should understand where they've worked before, the areas of success they've enjoyed, special interests they may have, groups they belong to, and other common contacts they may have with you or others in your company. 

Understand their role and responsibilities. The simplest way to get this information is to query others you know within their department/division, or at least, search the internet site for executive profiles, presentations they might have done, or articles they've written. Knowing this can help you to build credibility by referencing it while having your meeting, and ultimately enable you to determine how your product or service would map to their interests and initiatives. 

Schedule the right resources to join you and make certain they are briefed and prepared before hand. Make sure that anyone you bring is well aware of the above mentioned items as well as the agenda including their role and any of the topics they are to cover. Role play in advance of the meeting to be certain everybody knows who, when, and exactly how they are expected to participate. 

Share your agenda with your customer before hand and confirm who else will attend. By doing so, you can be certain that the topics you intend to cover are relevant while soliciting input for other areas or topics they're interested in. This straightforward step provides you with the chance to change course if your initial agenda missed the mark, and enable you to reach out to other executives you weren't aware were asked to join. 

Prepare an executive summary presentation or discussion document to follow during your meeting. Don't just wing it. Having a professional looking document or presentation will demonstrate that you have invested time preparing, will help guide your discussion to be sure very important points are covered, and shall prove that you care and appreciate your customer's time. 

Complete proper introductions. Make sure that everyone introduces themselves, and ask them to describe their role and responsibilities, and convey any particular areas they want to cover and what they want to get out of the meeting. Make sure you also briefly describe what if any relationship exists, and where and how both companies have worked together in the past. This is a great way to break the ice and build instant credibility for you and your company. Don't assume the people in the room are aware of any prior relationships or successes. 

Review the agenda items up front and confirm the amount of time you have for the meeting. Ask your customer to prioritize your topics and determine any others that need to be covered before jumping in. This ensures you review the most important items first, and less important ones last or not at all if you run out of time. 

Ask open ended, relevant questions, and listen carefully and take notes. Make sure your valuable time is not wasted with you or your team doing all of the talking. The best way to identify new sales opportunities is to understand your customers challenges and how your products and solutions can help them. Don't make the mistake of jumping into a hard core sales pitch before you have had the opportunity to clearly identify the value add you can provide. Periodically pause during the meeting and ask your customer if the content being reviewed is important and is resonating with them. If not, switch onto another more important subject. 

Before the meeting ends, recap the points covered and figure out next steps. Reserve time to briefly review and prioritize whatever you covered in addition to any action items that were agreed to. You ought to get concurrence for subsequent meetings, and figure out the focus areas along with other people who should participate. Solicit feedback from all attendees to determine then and there if they received the value they expected and covered the topics they were most keen on. Ask for guidance on how you can improve the next time. 

Deliver everything you promised. Soon after the meeting, it's critical that you follow through on what you said you would do. Send a thank you note to everyone that attended and document the action items and provide any information you promised. The additional value you can add begins when the meeting ends. It's also advisable to call each of the customers that attended to get their feedback. Many times in an open forum, individuals will not chime in during the meeting and may also have valuable information to talk about in a private setting.

By completing these 10 steps, you will be guaranteed to have successful executive sales meetings, and prove to your customers that you are a valuable and credible resource for them.

About the Author:

Visit here to find out more about how to Conduct Effective Sales Meetings as well as Proven Sales Techniques. By Paul M. Balzano

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