Sales Best Practices: 5 Ways to Prepare for Your Next Sales Meeting
Categories: Sales Conversation
When you’re pursuing an opportunity and you earn that coveted time with a decision maker, you have to be ready to uncover their needs and articulate your value. Oftentimes, you only get one chance to get it right. Ensure you achieve your desired outcomes in your next sales conversation. Do the work up front to make it happen.
Here are five ways to prepare for success, maximize your prospect’s time and guarantee a follow-up conversation.
1. Purpose, Process, Payoff
A purpose, process, payoff statement can help you make any sales conversation immediately relevant to your prospect’s (or multiple buyers’) specific goals or challenges. Having a purpose, process, and payoff statement prepared beforehand can enable you to immediately articulate the benefit of holding a quick conversation and/or capture the attention of everyone participating. It’s also a good idea to send this information in the agenda (see point 3). It helps you stand out in a competitive sales environment.
Here’s how we define the purpose, process and payoff components:
- The Purpose: quickly sets context around the goal of the meeting.
- The Process: sets up your ask, how the meeting time will be spent and what the prospect can expect.
- The Payoff: explains what’s in it for your prospect, the relevant and tangible benefits that capture the prospect’s interest.
Articulating the three "Ps" demonstrates your business acumen. Executing an impactful statement lets your prospects know you won’t be wasting their time. Dig deeper on what an effective purpose, process, payoff statement sounds like.
2. Define the Outcomes
After your purpose, process, payoff statement, a good way to follow up is to ask everyone involved in the conversation, “What would be a good outcome for you from this meeting?” We do this frequently at Force Management, even in our own internal meetings. In your sales conversations, this question can help you maximize everyone’s time and align the conversation with the needs and goals of every prospect in the meeting. It also creates a benchmark to measure the success of the conversation and how well you were able to meet expectations, so you know what to follow up on if something gets missed or skipped over.
If you’re going to ask this question, prepare ahead of time to actively listen to your prospects’ answers. In sales, active listening means giving your full attention to the speaker and their answers, so you can understand their position and how to further the conversation. Understand what preparing to actively listen looks like and how you can refine your approach to improve your outcomes.
3. Send an Agenda
We know why sellers avoid sending agendas. They’re afraid if they remind someone that he or she has a meeting with you – they’ll cancel. “Oh I was going to choose that vendor, but can you believe what their seller did? Sent an agenda...” (See? It’s not logical. Send an agenda.)
Sending an agenda isn’t going to make or break the opportunity, this step actually improves your ability to execute during the conversation and stand out as a seller. Differentiate yourself from your competition who aren’t taking this step.
Any executive that’s been given authority to make a large B2B buying decision should take the meeting seriously. An agenda will demonstrate your business acumen, help your prospect prepare for the meeting, and position you to have a successful meeting. Sending an agenda mitigates the risk of not being on target with your conversation and therefore, upsetting your prospect. Ensure your agenda is buyer focused. Keep in mind, you’ll get the best results by simplifying the meeting objectives in your agenda because if you’re trying to do too much your conversation can quickly go awry.
When building your agenda ensure it reiterates the goals of the meetings and asks for agreement. Your agenda should help you:
- Generate alignment on what the goals of the meeting are and how the goals will be accomplished in the given time. (Your purpose, process and payoff for the meeting)
- Understand how to troubleshoot if your plan for the meeting wasn’t what the prospect had in mind.
- Highlight any topics that the buyer may need to bring information on, for you both to discuss.
4. Be Audible-Ready
Even with great preparation, you can’t underestimate the importance of being audible-ready. When you call a meeting, make sure you’re prepared to ask the right questions, listen for customer problems, and guide the conversation in a way that demonstrates your ability to solve them. Always be audible-ready to articulate your value and differentiation in ways that speak to your customer’s biggest business problems and in a way that’s relevant to those on the call.
Use your pre-call research routine to improve your ability to be relevant to what your buyer shares and pivot as needed. Here are five ways you can prepare to be Audible-Ready for every valuable conversation.
5. Always Recap What You Heard
Recapping what you heard in your conversation gives you the opportunity to show you are genuinely interested in solving your buyer’s challenges and reiterate the key outcomes of the conversation (new anchors, buying criteria components, etc.). Sending a concise follow-up email also gives you a second chance to respond to any concerns or questions that you didn’t get a chance to cover or execute well on, the first time around. During the call, make a list of the key components that will need follow-up after the call. Then ensure you build them into your close and follow-up correspondence.
In an episode of The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast Force Management President John Kaplan runs through best practices for using recap information to your advantage. Listen to hear how you can play back what you heard in your sales conversations without sounding too repetitive and instead, leveraging it to propel your deal forward.
Improve Your Ability to Hit Your Numbers, Repeatedly
How you execute your pre-call preparation can improve your ability to stand out from tough competition and win more. Make every sales conversation count by honing your ability to execute the fundamentals of great selling. For refreshers on the basics and timely best practices and tips you can use in your current opportunities, subscribe to the Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. Never miss an episode on a key skill you can use in critical opportunities.