Planning and structuring effective meetings for sales success
Most people attend meetings. Salespeople probably attend the most meetings, with objectives that include providing information, discussing and agreeing solutions, and closing sales. To achieve your objectives, you need skills in planning and structuring effective meetings. This will help you to inspire a purchase rather than trying (and failing) to force a sale.
How do meetings work?
A meeting brings together two or more people with a common objective. In the sales context, the client wants to obtain a solution to a problem. The salesperson wants to supply that solution.
During a sales meeting, the salesperson and the client can discuss the problem and develop a solution. The salesperson can enthuse the client, create a common objective, and develop a direction to move the client toward the decision to purchase. To do this, the salesperson must:
- Have a definitive objective for the meeting
- Communicate effectively
- Control the meeting
Effective sales meetings have structure
The structure of a meeting provides a framework for the salesperson and client to exchange information and ideas. By communicating effectively during the meeting, a salesperson will engage customers and increase sales. This is only achieved by ensuring that the client is given time to fully describe the problem they have.
This allows the salesperson and client to analyze the problem together, discuss ideas they have, and decide which solution is best. This will involve a frank exchange of views, and examination of the advantages and disadvantages of all possibilities.
Planning the sales meeting
The success of sales meetings is founded on the attitude of the salesperson. He or she must lead the meeting in the desired direction. Planning a sales meeting will ensure that all crucial subjects are on the agenda and motivate the client to discuss the problems that are challenging them.
It is essential to set the objective of the meeting, and to ensure that the right people are present. The objective of the meeting will dictate what is included on the agenda. The time and place of the meeting needs to be set, and all relevant paperwork and documentation should be collated in preparation.
In a Harvard Business Review survey, 71% of senior managers said that meetings are unproductive and inefficient. Meetings that are unproductive are those that have no set objective and no clearly defined next steps. Good salespeople structure their meetings to avoid these failures.
Communicating effectively during a sales meeting
To avoid falling into the trap of conducting unproductive sales meetings, salespeople should:
- Ask questions to gain an insight into the problems that the client is facing – it is imperative to be open to this discussion, and to listen to the answers provided
- Consider what is said and discuss possible solutions with the client
- Allow the client to discover the pros and cons of each suggestion
- Agree a solution together with the client
The last of the above points is the most difficult. By empowering the client in the solution-finding process, the salesperson is empowering the client to make the purchase decision. Therefore, it is crucial to solicit feedback from clients.
Use a feedback framework
In our article “Giving feedback effectively”, we discuss a framework to help managers and leaders give and receive feedback. It’s a framework that can be easily modified to be equally effective in sales meetings:
- Listen attentively
- Repeat only what you heard (to clarify)
- Ask for specifics (of the problem)
- Appreciate the views expressed by the client
It is client feedback that informs the discussion during the sales meeting. Good salespeople use this information to drive toward a solution on the oath set by the meeting agenda. How client feedback is received by the salesperson dictates whether the client is a willing participant in the sales journey.
Contact us today, and discover how we could help your salespeople understand their own unconscious biases.