We don’t always do the best job that we can at preparation. But one thing is for sure – there is no shortage of meetings each day, especially in sales and marketing. Due to the collaborative nature of selling today, those meetings burn not only y0ur time, but the time of other valuable people in your organization. It pays to do them effectively and efficiently. So when is the last time you pre-planned an important meeting?
On my better days, this makes the difference between a highly successful meeting or one that lacks specific direction and outcomes.
You can do a pre-meeting plan in a phone call, or more formal written document. But whatever form it takes, I guarantee that you will have better meetings, and accomplish more in them if you take a few minutes and plan ahead. It works for non-sales meetings too.
So what comprises a good pre-meeting plan?
To fit your unique situation, you’ll ultimately need to answer that for yourself. But here are some suggestions from my “g0-to” pre-meeting plan document to get you started:
1. Meeting Logistics:
Communicate the time, date, exact location, attendees from both organizations, dress code, and a reminder to bring business cards. It seems simple, but at least one or two of these are almost always missed. By the way, your client will give you points for asking for this information ahead of time.
Not all their vendors come off this organized!
2. Client Snapshot:
Include a brief, relevant overview of the client organization to baseline the participants. Especially in the age of the internet, you never look so unprepared as when a team-mate asks a basic question that they should have known going in.
You’re on for preparing them!
3. Client Goals, Problems, Needs:
What does your client need from this meeting? How often do you go in to a meeting without the answer? Too often if you ask most clients. Preparing for this item is the only way you can know that you will deliver “in-meeting” value.
Provide “in-meeting” value or your follow-up won’t matter!
4. Sales Objective for the Meeting:
What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting? Some people are not comfortable with this prep question. I don’t know why. Clients know that we are all in business to give and get. Don’t just go in for a visit.
What’s annoying to them is you being unclear on what you want!
5. Main Agenda Topics and Topic Owners:
Being organized ahead of time to avoid confusion or conflict makes a huge difference on the impact of the meeting . The collaborative nature of selling has introduced a variable that did not exist in the “1 vs. world” model of sales meetings. We all think we’re smart and we all hate silence. Have this mapped.
Someone will say something dull unless you script it out!
6. Potential Objections, Planned Responses, and Owner:
If you can do just one item on this list before your next meeting make it this one. This is the most critical item and most often missed opportunity. Prepare for objections before you get in there. Here is a fun exercise to run before the meeting: Ask 4 participants what our ideal answer to a client’s question/objection will be and watch how far-flung the responses are. Practice this, or at least plan for it, and your meeting will be many times more effective.
A crisp response to a tough question can mean a win or a loss!
So there it is, your starter “Pre-Meeting Plan.” Now go make it yours and watch your meetings soar.