6 Essential Tips to Secure More, Better Quality Meetings
Prospecting is hard and very few people enjoy it. Whether you are pitching for the first time to a customer or looking to secure a meeting with a key influencer in the sales cycle, obtaining time in an executive’s diary is difficult. There is a lot of noise out there, and every attempt you make is probably being duplicated dozens of times by your competitors.
In this guest blog for Artesian, I have compiled six essential tips which anyone can use to improve your prospecting conversion rate while driving better quality meetings for both you and the customer.
Tip 1: Do your homework
This has to be the first step in any prospecting routine. You need to understand your industry and customers thoroughly before trying to engage.
Back in the early days of my career, I remember going into the first meeting with some Heads of Business at a FTSE 100 Company and attempting to use that famous sales methodology called ‘blag it’.
It backfired. Spectacularly. Not only did I look like an idiot in front of the customer, but I lost the deal to a principal competitor. They went in prepared.
Ever since then, I have vowed never to make the same mistake again, even though my diary has become much more time sensitive as my sales career has progressed.
I always make time for preparation.
As a minimum, Google their company, read the latest news and check for any exciting market updates. If the news stories are positive, replay this during your conversation.
A better approach would be to automate the ‘homework’ element of sales preparation. Create a news feed for your customers and industries and ensure you stay on top of the updates.
The Artesian platform is excellent for this, and I like how vital customer news and updates are delivered via email to me every day to peruse over my morning coffee.
Tip 2: Truly understand your value proposition
How does your solution or service help this specific customer?
Don’t just regurgitate a bunch of jargon from your company handbook, take the time to understand how your value proposition helps each customer, individually.
Ensure you have some reference stories from other clients which can outline the underlying problem/solution/benefit. Customers love hearing what other customers are doing, especially if that customer was an early adopter or an innovator in their space.
Be ready to share these stories to help build confidence with customers that you are experienced in this area. Confidence builds trust, and trust builds solid, long-lasting relationships with customers.
Tip 3: Profiling the correct contacts
Ask any successful salesperson what was often the influencing factor in closing a significant deal, and they will often talk about their customer ‘champion’. An activist or a person looking to drive change across the organisation who can knock down doors and move projects forward.
Most people expect this person to be a senior executive, and they often are. However, there are also times when that ‘champion’ appears way down an organisation hierarchy. This doesn’t matter as what you are looking for is the person who understands the business value that can be achieved from your solution or service and is driven to push that agenda forward internally within their organisation.
Profiling these types of people is often hard. There is no set skillset, role or CV. The only way you will find them is by having lots of relevant conversations with lots of relevant people within the customer. You will know when you have found a ‘champion’, as they will start moving forward themselves, introducing you to key stakeholders and driving towards change.
So what is the best way to profile key contacts? In my opinion, LinkedIn provides the best platform to search for people within an organisation. You can filter by company, by location, by role and so on – helping to narrow your search tremendously.
Tip 4: Use news stories or updates to generate relevant meetings
In my upcoming eBook, ‘The Art of Being Relevant – How to Book a Meeting with Anyone’, I provide a simple methodology which helps you book more higher quality meetings.
One of the key themes I discuss when it comes to prospecting cadence is the use of new stories or headlines to generate meetings.
This is a compelling technique. If a prospect is in the news talking about something within their company or industry, and there is some link back to your product or service, contact them (I often find email is best in this type of approach) referencing their comments in the press.
Paring this approach with others from my book has led to an 80%+ success rate of conversion to meetings.
Why? Because it makes your message relevant to them and shows that you have not sent an email blast. It is a personal, directly relatable message which gives them a good reason to engage with you.
Tip 5: Read their annual statement!
I know this could have gone into the ‘Do your homework’ section, but I feel it deserves space on its own. A company’s annual statement is a goldmine of information!
And yes, they can be 400+ pages long, but often it takes less than five minutes to find some fascinating information.
Pro tip: you can access annual statements and financial information within Artesian.
A colleague I had been asked to mentor was impressed when during a closing call with a customer, I was able to recite a number of their top priorities for the year. This built trust with the customer and helped us double our deal size in the process.
Look out for their strategic objectives such as driving profitability, growth in emerging markets, opening new stores, driving digital transformation and so on. These strategic objectives are often outlined in much more detail later in the statement, and will sometimes include the names of those leading the initiative.
Send a personalised email to the project lead for this area quoting the Chairman, CEO etc. and you can expect a much higher response rate than a generic email message.
Tip 6: Build cadence around prospecting
Cadence is critical, as my MD used to say (thanks Simon!). In every part of the sales process, it is essential to ensure there is cadence and repetition.
Far too many people read an exciting sales book, or pick up a tip about sales prospecting, try it for a day, or a week and then abandon it. Prospecting is about routine and regularly building the pipeline.
As Jeb Blount explains in ‘Fanatical Prospecting’, the most successful salespeople in the world never stop prospecting. This keeps the pipe full and keeps confidence high.
On the flip side, I have seen what happens when you think your pipeline is full, and you are going to have a great quarter, and then take your foot off the accelerator. Next quarter becomes a car crash. This leads to lower confidence, and you end up working on lower quality deals. So you ramp up prospecting, and the cycle starts again.
Do not let this happen to you.
Even if you are a seasoned sales professional, find at least one hour a day to prospect – whether on LinkedIn, phone, email, at a conference or networking event or similar, make time to keep the pipeline full. Build your process and cadence so that this becomes ingrained and you will ensure success.
If you are interested in learning more about my eBook and the methodology I have developed, head on over to howtobookameeting.com to sign up for the book!
It will be launched on Amazon very soon! Connect with me on LinkedIn, like and share the article and let us know what you thought in the comments.
This post was written by guest author, Paul Roberts, author of “The Art of Being Relevant – How to Book a Meeting with Anyone”, and enterprise sales executive for Qlik. All opinions expressed are the authors and do not represent those of his employer, either now or in the future.