If you are running a business, a lot hinges on your ability to close a deal through a sales meeting. Preparation will play a big part in your success. By following a sales meeting agenda that you know is effective, you will have a consistent framework to turn leads into clients.
Creating a sales meeting agenda will help you keep your meeting on track. Follow the agenda enough times, and you’ll become a veteran at selling. Today, I’ll break down the components of a sales meeting agenda you can use at your business.
How to prepare for your sales meeting
Preparation plays a key part in the success of any sales meeting. Creating your agenda for a meeting is one of the ways you can increase your conversion rate. It’s also important, though, to learn a bit about the company, their goals, and the people you will be meeting.
I’ll quickly cover the steps I take to prepare for a sales meeting. We’ll start with the most important element.
Get the lead to share their goals
When you know what a potential client wants, you can deliver a sales meeting proposal that aligns with their goals. This much should be pretty obvious. There are two ways to find out what the person on the other side of the table wants:
- Use your Jedi mind-reading skills
- Ask the other people to fill in a questionnaire before the meeting
Out of the two options, mind reading is clearly the coolest option.
Unfortunately, or maybe, “luckily”, we haven’t figured out a way to read people’s minds.
Given this fact, I recommend you send over a short questionnaire before your sales meeting. Ask them to send it back to you before the meeting.
So what will this questionnaire look like?
Your questionnaire should be short. I’d aim for 10-20 questions max. For most people, it will make sense to ask the following questions:
- What is your budget for this project?
- Have you worked with other [AGENCIES/ CONSULTANTS, etc.] before/ have you used other [PRODUCTS/ SOFTWARE, etc.] similar to ours?
- What are your goals for the project/ what do you hope to achieve?
- How is this measured/ what are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)?
Those four questions will apply to most businesses. You can add more questions to this list based on your needs. You can use the answers to the questionnaire to create a sales pitch that aligns with their needs.
Research the person you will be meeting & the company
Researching the person you are meeting, and the company they represent helps create an impression of professionalism. It will show you are taking the meeting and their time seriously.
Just as importantly, a bit of research will help with the small talk that precedes a sales meeting.
I generally spend around 30 minutes before a sales meeting familiarizing myself with a company. As part of my research, I’ll usually do the following:
- Check out the company website and see what the company does
- Head over to LinkedIn to see how many people the company employs
- Review financial information about the company. In the UK you can do this through Companies House
That’s it. Nothing too complicated. You might also need to do some specific preparation related to my niche — I do a competitor analysis and other SEO related tasks, for example.
So that’s the company research out of the way.
The other thing you should do before your sales meeting is to research who you will meet. I set aside 10-20 minutes for this.
Social media makes researching people remarkably straightforward. Almost everyone you’ll need to talk to nowadays has a LinkedIn profile that indicates their position, responsibilities, and professional interests. I usually start my research here.
A quick browse of Instagram or Facebook might reveal information about the activities they like to do in their spare time, like books they’re currently reading or places they’ve visited.
Don’t spend too long doing this research. The aim is to get to know a bit about a person and find points of interest or connections that could be talking points in the sales meeting.
The Optimal Sales Meeting Agenda
So we’ve covered how to prepare for your sales meeting. These are the things you can do to leave a good impression and help personalize your pitch to their needs. Now I want to cover how to put together a sales meeting agenda that helps you consistently turn leads into customers.
Set aside time for small talk
Every culture has a different approach to business. Most, particularly English speaking cultures, will kick off the first five to ten minutes of a meeting with general chit chat.
If you are good at holding a conversation, breaking the ice will be easy for you. I’ve found that you mostly end up talking about hobbies, educational background, and work while people settle in. This is why researching the person is so important.
Set aside five to ten minutes for this within your sales meeting agenda. Once everyone is feeling comfortable, it’s time to get down to business.
Discuss their problems and pain points
The first key part of your sales meeting agenda will involve getting the lead to discuss the pain points and problems they are facing. They must do this in their words. You can ask probing questions to get them to start explaining their needs.
Many of the problems they discuss should be the same as the issues you identified through the initial questionnaire. Regardless, it’s essential to get them to talk through these problems at the start of the sales meeting. There are two reasons for this:
- Discussing their issue helps them focus on why they need your service
- You want to make sure your sales pitch aligns with their needs
The other thing you should discuss is how they quantify success. The product or service that you offer is simply a vehicle that allows them to achieve these goals. You will be sharing your framework in the next stage of your sales meeting agenda.
Share your framework for success
When a customer purchases a product or service from you they are buying into an idea. Your offering will help them achieve their goal. You will generally help the company achieve their end goal by providing a solution that:
- Does something faster or with less hassle than before
- Helps them make more money by growing their business in some way
- Help them save money by reducing operational expenses in some way
When sharing your framework for success, you need to be explicit about the link between what you have to offer and what they want to achieve.
You need to connect the dots between what you are offering and the value the business receives. For example, when I sell my SEO consultancy services, I emphasize how I discuss how I can help them make money blogging. I don’t focus on the link building, which is just the means to the goal.
The more clearly you can create this link, the easier it will be for the prospective customer to buy into your solution.
Give your lead time to talk
A meeting isn’t a proper meeting if you don’t let your prospect talk. After sharing your framework, pause, and let your prospect ask questions.
Creating space for the person you are meeting to speak isn’t just an opportunity to get feedback; it’s also a chance to align their knowledge and expectations with yours. A simple “Are we all on the same page on this?” is a good way to ensure that your sales pitch aligns with their needs.
Allowing your prospects to talk is not just the polite thing to do; it’s also a chance to get honest, actionable feedback that you could use for future meetings or even with other potential clients.
Provide examples of your big wins
Once you’ve finished sharing your framework for success, and listened to their input, it’s time to share proof that you can deliver. This is where you share case studies of your big wins and how you helped companies in a similar situation to the one they currently face, overcome the obstacle they have, and achieve success.
The best case studies are examples of work you’ve done that will resonate. For example, if you are meeting a small business, sharing your story about how you helped a Fortune 500 company is probably not going to work. The people you are talking to are likely to decide you’re going to be too expensive before you share your quote. And if you happen to be affordable, they will probably start to question the quality of your service.
Rather, you should share a success story from a similar-sized company, where the end goals aligned. These types of stories help prove the value of your product or service offering.
Your case studies will generally follow a similar framework.
We worked with a company that had [INSERT PROBLEM HERE]. We discussed their needs and applied our magic formula for growth. As a result of our work they [INSERT POSITIVE OUTCOME].
These stories will help build trust in the quality of your product or service.
Close with a clear CTA
Much as you should never go to a meeting without a goal, you should end every meeting with some clear next steps. You might not leave a sales meeting with an agreement to work together. If that’s the case, your meeting’s outcome may take the form of a gentle nudge: “I shared today how our product can help you slash operating costs by at least 20%. Is this something you’d like to discuss in more depth?”
That outcome is fine. Sometimes, the sales process takes a long time. However, you should make sure to agree on a date for a followup meeting. Ideally, you should end every sales meeting with an agreement to submit a business proposal. If that’s the case, arrange a followup meeting where you can submit and talk through the proposal.
What to do after your sales meeting
Regardless of the outcome of your sales meeting, it’s worth setting out some standardized next steps. For example, I always follow up within 24 hours of a sales meeting with the person. In the follow-up message, I’ll generally thank the person for their time and share a quick summary of the next steps. I also like to reconfirm the date for the next meeting.
If you’re going to maintain contact via email, I recommend using an email tracking system to monitor conversations. This ensures that the touchpoints you established with the prospect are still viable and help you determine when to follow up on your last communication with them.
The day after the meeting, I set aside some time to analyze the minutes of the meeting. Think about what worked, and where you got things wrong. There’s always scope for improving your approach and using the experience you gained to improve your sales pitch for the next meeting.
How to create a sales meeting agenda that yields positive results
It’s understandable to feel a bit nervous on your first sales meeting, especially if you’re new to the industry, and getting rejected on the spot is a fact of life when you’re in business development. However, with time and experience, you should be able to hold more successful sales meetings.
There are many factors that compose a sales meeting agenda that results in conversion. These include establishing rapport, a set of possible questions, and a timeline that also accounts for your customer’s replies and comments. Ending your sales meeting with a call-to-action will have more impact than stopping abruptly after you describe why your product is better than the competition.
I don’t believe there are people who were not born to sell. Instead, I believe anyone can sell anything, as long as they have enough knowledge about their products, their potential clients, and their wants and needs. Hopefully, the tips and framework I shared will help as you create a sales meeting agenda for your next appointment. Best of luck.