When we think about meetings, we usually moan. Meetings generally suck. As a matter of fact, when surveyed people all across the world thought only 5%-10% of the meetings they were in were productive. 5%-10%!!
How many meetings do you do in a week?
We lose $37B in lost productivity because of poor meetings. Each year. This is why you can set yourself apart by running a high impact meeting every single time. People will remember you even if they don’t buy from you. They will take a bunch of meetings and yours will stand out. That gives you an edge.
How many people just want to meet with you to have coffee, network etc? Most of the time, it’s just filling time. We don’t have time for that in our lives. Time is too valuable.
First, it’s important to know why you are even having the meeting in the first place. Do you think about the process and content before the meeting? How much are you preparing? Are you thinking about how the meeting will run as much as you are thinking about the content?
Early in the sales process, the salesperson is qualifying the buyer. They have generated a lead, and now they are trying to figure out if it’s the right customer. This is key, because the wrong customer will tax them and cause them to spend too many resources-even if they end up making the sale.
Second, it’s time to start setting expectations as you go down the sales path. You never want to waste customer time. If you run a high impact meeting with them, you never will and it’s going to be easier to get on their schedule. Meetings are like steam. They fill in space. Open a door a few minutes after the space was filled and it’s as if nothing ever happened.
Have a couple of clear goals for a meeting before you do the meeting. They may or may not be explicit and they may or may not be verbalized. Ensure you get what you came for.
Oh, this should go without saying, never ever be late to a meeting.
What do you bring to a meeting?
This happens right at the beginning of the meeting. You may have a written agenda, or you might not. You say something like this, “The purpose of this meeting is to talk about…..what I think you will gain/benefit from….how does that sound?
The customer will either nod or say yes. Or they will ask you a question helping you uncover their concern. The important thing is to get alignment at the beginning of the meeting.
Ask Impact Questions You must get inside the customer’s head.
Warren Berger said, “A beautiful question is an ambitious yet actionable question that can begin to shift the way we perceive or think about something-and that might serve as a catalyst to bring about change.”
Kinds of Questions There are three kinds of questions
- Closed ended (Yes or No) “Are you having a good day?”
- Open ended (A little more information) “How is your day going?”
- Impact questions (Inject emotion into the answer) “Based on last quarter, what is your biggest fear going forward?”
See the difference? In the last question, the customer opens up a bit and tells the salesperson one of their concerns. There is one danger in asking impact questions. The customer might get off point and go down a mineshaft where you don’t want to be. Let them finish speaking, then pivot.
The Pivot Someone has hijacked the conversation. Bring the sales call back to the point of it.
When a customer rattles off topic, the salesperson must bring them back. Say something like this, “You know what, it looks like you have a lot of energy around that topic. We started the meeting to talk about x, y and z, and we’ve only talked about x. Immediately start talking about point y.
Closing the meeting Close well, close crisply.
- Close with action items-an ask. This is explicit and transparent. (I will follow up with…and you will do….)
- Check (Get a verbal answer, “How does that sound?”)
Follow up Follow up in a way that goes above and beyond. I used to send an email, now I am trying to get new routine.
This might look mechanical, but I assure you it’s not. If you run meetings this way, everyone involved will appreciate it and you won’t waste their time. The salesperson doesn’t waste their time either.