Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Just because inside sales is all the rage today doesn’t mean there isn’t value left in having the occasional face-to-face meeting. In-person sales meetings are unique opportunities to nurture B2B relationships. According to a study by Oxford Economics, face-to-face meetings lead to an increase in both corporate revenue and profits. In other words, people are more likely to buy from you if you share a handshake, a few words, and maybe even a beer. But don’t celebrate just yet – a lot of time, energy, and preparation need to go into these meetings to get closed-won deals out of them, so get ready for some hard work.

In this post, we will break down exactly how to prepare for and conduct a successful face-to-face sales meeting from start to finish.

Before the meeting

To get the most value out of your meeting, it is critical to come well-prepared. Simply researching the person you are meeting and the company they work for is not enough. These steps are important, of course, but stopping there will do nothing to differentiate you from your competition. The best way to prepare for your meeting by answering and taking notes on these essential questions:

  • What is the company’s business model? Don’t waste time during the meeting catching up on the company’s business model, how they make money, and who their top clients are. Find this out ahead of time.

  • What are the company’s pain points? Theorize on the most important issues they might be facing right now based on your initial conversations and your background research on their company. The last time you connected, what was the main issue they addressed? Think about how these problems affect the company’s overarching goals and what they’re doing to achieve these goals.

  • What results would this customer see if they worked with your company? Although your meeting is no time for a sales pitch, having an idea of how your company can help theirs will help you frame the discussion.

  • What questions are you going to ask? Brainstorm 5-10 thought-provoking and open-ended questions to ask during the meeting. Engage the person you meet with interesting dialogue by challenging them to second-guess how their business runs or what they are doing to achieve their top-line goals.

  • What questions will they ask? Make a list of anticipated questions and draft responses to these questions.

  • What’s the next step? Identify what you want them to commit to once the meeting is over. If their company is a fit for yours, you should aim to have them commit to taking some action after the meeting is over. Have in mind a specific “due date” for this action.

During the meeting

The keys to success in your meeting are likeability, transparency, credibility, and offering of value. Here’s how to incorporate them into the discussion from beginning to end:

  • Beginning – First thing’s first: set the tone of the meeting. Show up on time or even a little bit early and show them you are authentic, friendly and approachable when you introduce yourself. Be appreciative of the time they took to meet with you with a simple “Thank you for having me.” Next, go over their objectives and expectations for the meeting to make sure you are both on the same page. This part of the conversation should be open-ended – ask them to share with you what they hope to get out of the meeting. End your introduction by establishing a framework for the discussion so expectations are clear for both parties and you can stay on topic.

  • Middle – Aim to uncover shared interests and provide valuable insight to your prospect. Gain their respect by initiating and cultivating stimulating conversation. You should have already theorized what their most important business issues are, and now is the time to ask about them and identify pain points. Take notes on everything you talk about in the meeting for later reference. Whatever you do, don’t hard sell – you will jeopardize an authentic relationship with your prospect and decrease chances of a future deal. In fact, avoid discussing at any length the product or service your company provides. The meeting is about the business value your company can give to your prospect, not your company itself.

  • End – Don’t get pushy. Remember, today’s customers decide to buy after a series of interactions, so your #1 priority should be to build a trusting relationship. Instead, recap what you got out of the discussion and then ask for their input. Making sure you’re both on the same page demonstrates that you truly care about offering value and helps them trust you and like you. Finally, suggest how to continue the conversation in the future and set a specific date and time for follow-up.

 

If you follow these tips, face-to-face meetings can be incredibly valuable opportunities to create solid relationships with potential customers.

How do you prepare for face-to-face sales meetings? What other tips do you have for executing a successful meeting?

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