Spring is around the corner, daylight savings time is here, the temperature will be warming, and the weather will turn milder as life begins to bloom. Thinking back on our previous seasons here in New England, they were filled with hurricanes, blizzards, and nor’easters.
One lesson we learned from all of the fun weather, was how to be better prepared. Here is how the thought process goes. What could go wrong? The electricity could go out. Then we will need to see at night, so we will need candles, matches, flashlights and batteries. If you are lucky enough to own a generator, it needs gas. Not that you need a lesson in home maintenance, but electricity powers the refrigerator, so we will need coolers with ice to keep the food from spoiling. No electricity means the water pump will not work so we need to stock up on water. If we can’t leave the house we will need food for a week, and please something to occupy the kids that doesn’t involve an “X” or a “boy” or a “we.” I think you get the idea. There is a significant amount of thought and planning that goes into preparing for a storm.
The same is true for any sales meeting; a tremendous amount of planning and preparation should take place before the storm. We need to continuously ask ourselves, “What could go wrong?” Then, we need to think what we will do if it actually does go awry.
Sometimes it’s easier to think about the physical and logistical needs of the meeting separately from the substance of the meeting. Logistically, we think about who will attend the meeting, how do we get there, what will we use to present? The list goes on. Next we think through what happens if the car breaks down, or the flight is delayed? What if the presentation laptop gets dropped into a fish tank? What do we do if the booklets get shipped to the wrong address? You get the idea. I have always tried to deal with the physical aspects of the meeting first to get them out of the way so I can focus more clearly on the important content of the sales meeting.
With the physical needs of the meeting designed, now the team can focus on the real substance of the meeting. Maybe the most important question to answer will be what do you want as the outcome of the meeting? What will be the next step with your prospect? What are your closing strategies to get your prospect to that step? What questions will you ask the prospect to obtain the necessary information to move the process forward? There are many things to consider, debate, and plan. We plan for demonstrations and objections; conversations about competitors, differentiation, benefits, and value. Lastly, we try to plan for the unexpected. What will you do or say if your client reacts differently than you expect? What could possibly go wrong, how will you react, what will you say or do, what is your strategy?
Sales meeting planning assures you are prepared to be your best. It helps you demonstrate your ability to be thorough, sharp, and attentive. Planning should continually reinforce your focus on the prospect and in turn gives your best effort for the prospect. Prospects want to know they are special and important. Being prepared shows your prospect they are important to you. Planning also provides an additional benefit for you and the team. Preparation gives you confidence. If you are prepared, you will be poised and assured. This confidence can put your prospect at ease, creating a comfortable atmosphere and put you in a better position to win business.
What is true for meeting a storm is true for a sales meeting – preparation is the key. Let’s hope for calm weather and easy wins.