How to Lead a Successful Sales Meeting


How to Lead a Successful Sales Meeting: Part 1

If you ever had a horrible sales meeting with a prospect where nothing seemed to go your way (and we all have), then you have probably made one of these common mistakes. There are three common mistakes salespeople make during sales meetings. These mistakes are bound to ruin a potentially great sales meeting.

These mistakes are:

  1. Not qualifying the people in the room
  2. Not understanding the need/pain
  3. Selling too soon

Of course, there are many components to a successful sales meeting in general. However, we'll focus on introductions, understanding the pain, and selling too soon for this three-part post. Before we can get into the body of the meeting, we have to get the sales meeting off to a great start by leading the group through introductions.

Mistake: Not Qualifying the Meeting Participants

Occasionally, when you have a sales meeting, your customer's point of contact will take it upon themselves to invite others from the organization to join the meeting that you may not have met yet. In most cases, this should be taken as a positive gesture and indicate that you have created some interest or at least some curiosity within the account.

However, this larger audience with unfamiliar faces can be a double-edged sword and can sometimes become overwhelming. As a sales manager, I have watched many salespeople skip a critical step in conducting their meetings. They neglect to ask everyone in the room to introduce themselves.

This is a critical mistake for several reasons. We will explore four of these reasons below.

1. Don't Be Rude

To begin, let's get the basics out of the way first. To speak to a room full of people and not being introduced to each one is simply rude, and even if you think it's not a big deal in today's business world, one of them will likely be disappointed, and you can't afford to get off on the wrong foot with anyone. Like they say, "One bad apple ruins the bunch." So mind your manners and introduce yourself to each person in the room.

2. Shine a Light on the "Spy"

I have seen and heard of this happening often enough to include this point here. It is not uncommon for your competitor and/or your prospect's current vendor to be so critical to the organization's operation that they are seen as a virtual member of the team. These vendor contracts are often included in internal meetings as a regular practice. Regardless of their trusted advisor status, their first goal will always be self-preservation. Suppose your competitor has been invited to your meeting to hear your presentation. In that case, it will be essential to identify them in the room and be prepared for them to challenge your claims, and politely point out your limitations related to their solution or service. Ask for each person to introduce themselves and their responsibilities, so you are not caught off-guard later in the meeting by someone threatened by your solution.

3. Sort Out the Roles

As you go around the room during introductions, take the time to ask people to clarify their responsibility and how they relate to the topic you plan to present. You are looking to identify some key roles:

  • Your Champion – This person likely helped you set/organize the meeting.
  • The Influencer – Their opinions are valued. This is often the Dept. Manager.
  • The User – This person is concerned with how a decision to purchase your product/service will impact their life. They ask themselves, "Will this make my job easier/harder/obsolete?"
  • The Decision Maker – This is usually the person with budget authority.

4. Selling Deep and Wide

Finally, by understanding each person's role in an organization, you improve your chances of earning more business at the account. Use the contacts you create in the meeting to spin up opportunities in other areas of the company. Build relationships with influencers and users by asking for ways you can help them immediately solve a problem. Can you volunteer a technical resource to answer a question? Can you provide a document or white paper that offers some insight? Can you give away a free trial of software or authorize a diagnostic of an existing tool or process? Look for ways to convert these people to fans of you and your business. These relationships may benefit you on your current opportunity or be the seed for other opportunities elsewhere in the organization.

In future blogs, we will explore some of the other common mistakes salespeople make in sales meetings. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

What are the other benefits of taking time for introductions at the start of a sales meeting?

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Mike Faherty

Mike Faherty is the Founder & CEO of ProSales Connection, a sales and marketing firm based in Houston, Texas. ProSales Connection specializes in helping B2B and technology companies grow through sales appointment setting and outsourced inside sales programs.

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