I still remember one of my first sales meetings donkey’s years ago. About 10 senior executives sitting around a table looking at me
expectantly. I honestly had no idea how to start the formal meeting, or how to structure it for a successful outcome.
There is one immutable principle in selling. Who controls the structure controls the outcome. It’s either you or your prospect. Give up control and you allow your prospect to dictate the agenda.
And that’s doing both you and your prospect a major disservice. Why? Because if you genuinely believe your solution could help your prospect achieve their desired outcome, giving up control means they’re less likely to understand what you could do for them and become a client.
Given this, all successful professional salespeople do three things extremely well when in front of a prospect. They position themselves, establish credibility and keep control.
They know that selling is a structured process made up of defined steps. They understand that taking short cuts and missing steps will set them up to fail and be a major waste of time – both for them and their prospects.
But sadly, this skill is not often taught. And many a sale is lost because of it.
Today we’ll go over the vital first steps – how to start and frame a meeting.
Start by setting the stage.
You’ve made an appointment with a prospect. They’ve agreed to see you but really don’t know anything about you or your organisation.
This is how I suggest you handle the meeting.
Frame the meeting and control the agenda
Start with the usual welcome pleasantries. Then say something along the lines of, “As we have an hour together, what I’d like to do is start by telling you a little about me (or our organisation), then I’ll ask about you and we’ll get into why we’re here and discuss your challenges and how we could help solve them”.
Now comes the critical bit. You have to “EARN THE RIGHT” to be heard by positioning yourself and establishing credibility. In other words, why should your prospect be listening to you?
Your goal is to establish yourself as the expert and have them take you and your recommendations seriously.