Running an impressive sales meeting is no easy task. How many times have you wished that you’d been just that little better prepared? That you had been better at capturing and holding the attention of the room? That you knew more about the individual people attending?
I look back on my first sales meetings with a little embarrassment.
I could have been better prepared, there were questions I had no answers for, I wasn’t leading the conversation and I lacked confidence.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, and we can all look back and learn lessons from things we could have done differently or better – but understanding what we can do better and making the changes required to address them are two different things.
Did you know that the average seller spends 19% of their time attending sales meetings (Super Office data), they’re therefore a massive part of your role and something you invest a lot of effort in.
It may surprise you to learn then, that according to research by Marketing Wisdom only 1 out of every 50 meetings leads straight to a sale being successfully closed.
Something is going awry somewhere!
So how can you be better prepared for every meeting and nail those sales? It all comes down to building pre-meeting rituals, things you do for every sales meeting before heading out the door.
It makes sense, after all, athletes warm up their bodies, singers and actors warm up their voices, why shouldn’t sellers warm up their minds.
A pre-meeting ritual can make the real difference to your success in those all-important sales meetings.
Here are my top 5 sales meeting preparation hacks – the five things you should do 5 minutes before every meeting:
1. Check the news
In sales meetings, we all know that information is power. Perhaps more importantly, the right information at the right time is the most powerful kind of all. The surest way for a sales meeting to fail is if the seller goes in cold.
Scroll through recent news to see if anything major has been announced by the company you’re meeting, for example leadership changes, product releases, financial statements, events, or customer wins.
Likewise, check news going on around their business, such as major developments happening within their market, or what’s happening with their competitors.
Dial it to the max by checking out what’s happening with their partners, customers, regulators and professional bodies.
Going into a meeting without understanding the latest developments that could shape how they are likely to view your offering could be a costly mistake.
Being able to marshal exactly the right facts at the right time can make the difference between success and failure in sales meetings.
Top Tip – Artesian can help by pulling out the most relevant news to you and break these articles out using specific, customisable triggers that highlight positive and negative news topics about your customer and provide you with new opportunities to engage. Your Artesian news feed can often contain critical news pieces about your clients and prospects. Using the Triggers you will easily be able to spot the most relevant and business crucial news to you without searching. We highlight these for you and point them out!
2. Scan social
Social media feeds are a gold mine for pre-meeting research. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor etc. can all help you understand how the company is presenting itself to its customers, and therefore how you need to present yourself to them.
It can also highlight issues or challenges they are having that you could help solve, potential trends and emerging opportunities you could jump on, as well as some useful personal tidbits about the individuals attending.
Blog posts too are great sources of insight, and an excellent way to understand the culture and direction of the company you’re selling too.
How great would it be if you could augment every meeting by throwing in a useful or insightful contextual anecdote at the vital moment? It’s possible if you make scanning the social part of your pre-meeting ritual.
Top Tip – Within Artesian the news feeds are not the only resources you have when researching companies. We also track Blog posts and Twitter feeds to provide valuable insights into what is going on within a company and how they are perceived by their customers, peers and employees. It is great way to pounce on any breaking news to show you are up to date with all the inner workings within the organisation you are meeting.
3. Check out what’s happening in the customer’s sector
Nailing a sales meeting is about more than just understanding the customer and their business, it is about understanding what they need and why the need it.
That means looking, learning and analysing the external factors affecting their business from every conceivable angle – from end-customers, partners and every link in the supply chain, from market pressures, competitors and other external forces.
In fact, recent insight from Gartner on what sales should know about modern B2B buyers shows that conversations that offer customers a new way to think about or improve their business tend to be more effective.
Bringing these conversations to the table in a sales meeting and providing wider sector insights that can drive new perspectives on how the customer might operate their business (i.e. new ways to make money, save money, mitigate risk, manage inventories, gain a competitive advantage) can leverage great sales success.
By checking out and harnessing sector intelligence and insights as part of your pre-meeting ritual you can turn up to the meeting better prepared to educate your buyer and share something of value with them.
Top Tip – The Markets tab in Artesian allows you to quickly and easily supplement your knowledge about your customer by understanding what’s happening in the sector around them. You can select the sector and sub-sector you’re interested in using the menus on the left of the Market News page.
4. Understand the company’s financials and structure
A company’s financials are of vital interest to any seller entering a meeting if you want to kick off on the right note.
By understanding your customer’s financials, you get a better understanding of their appetite for risk, what price point works for them, their short term goals, and their long-term aspirations.
Your customer may be looking to minimise costs, and/or get a fast return on investment, alternatively a quick turn around on ROI might not be as important to them as sustainable organic growth.
Every customer, and indeed every person sitting around the meeting table, will have different drivers and risk profiles, all of which need consideration in terms of understanding the way they think, how they will receive your ideas and the kind of relationship they are looking for.
Likewise, it is therefore important to understand the company’s structure. It is easy to think that to sell to an organisation, the most important decision-makers you need to target are the people at the top, right? Wrong!
Recognise that in any business, no matter what size or market, decisions are not made by only one or two people at the top, indeed according to the CEB Global, 5.4 people are involved in the average B2B decision-making group.
There are many influencers involved in buying decisions – each will have their own agenda, their own view as to the solution, and be at a different stage in the buying journey. By understanding the structure of the business you will be better placed to ensure your meeting agenda speaks to everyone.
Top tip – Artesian allow you to quickly find out more about the company your meeting, reference financial records and explore company contacts in one consolidated view. Reduce research time by filtering by # employees, directors, SIC codes, financial and credit data.
5. Research the key players
I cannot stress enough how imperative it is that you take the time to know everyone who will be attending the meeting. As mentioned previously decision-makers can vary when it comes to the role they play in their organisations, their motivations, their appetite, and their buying persona. By taking the time to do your research on the key players before you enter the meeting you will be prepared for the questions that each individual is likely to ask.
If you want to successfully capture and hold the attention of the room you need up-to-the-minute insight about everyone sitting around the table – their sentiments, where they are in the sales cycle, and their expectations.
Top tip – Within the People tab of Artesian, you can find the Directors of the company, plus other key individuals. Artesian shows you Other Directorships they hold and connects you to their social media profile. Likewise, the Artesian Ready app pulls through social insight from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to deliver a 360° comprehensive profile of customers and prospects ahead of meetings. Saving precious time, it summarises the profile information of attendees into the meeting tab for quick reference, ensuring you feel confident and prepared, and that the focus of the meeting is on the customer, their exact needs and interests, at that very moment in time.
Get meeting ready
Artesian can help take your pre-meeting ritual to the next level. Making sure you know everything there is to know about the company and the people you are meeting, and giving you the ability to monitor their news and posts right up to the second you walk through the meeting room door.
Refresh your pre-meeting preparation – instead of being led by a snazzy sales script, keep the focus of every meeting on the customer, and their exact needs and interests at that very moment in time, and feel more confident and better prepared to walk in and smash it.