5 Fundamental Steps for a Successful First Sales Meeting
Through the years, both on the supplier and distributor side, I have spent countless hours attending sales seminars, reading books and viewing instructional videos to improve my sales presentation skills. I always believed if I could pick up one or two things it would be time well spent.
Over time, I felt that many of these sales training programs were saying the same thing, just in a different way. Here are five fundamental steps that I found lead to a successful first sales meeting:
1. Do your research
The obvious first step is doing internet research on the company and the individual you are meeting with. The not so obvious is asking yourself: How is this individual being measured by their superiors? How do they define success? For example, individuals within marketing are typically measured by their capability to drive revenue through both customer acquisition and customer retention. Human Resources and Operations are measured by employee education, efficiency, and retention. Often overlooked, anyone with a management title has a budget and more than likely is interested in having visibility on promotional spend.
2. Discovery questions
Formulate a list of questions based on what your research tells you. You should have a working theory going into a meeting. It could be way off, and if so, you will find out based on the customer responses. The discovery process ultimately is designed to identify the promotional needs of the customer.
Sounds like common sense, but for many it's not. Sales professionals by nature are extroverted and like to talk, often about themselves. Do yourself a favor. Ask your discovery questions, silently listen and ask follow up questions. Remember, the customer has a need otherwise they would not have taken the meeting. Your job at this stage is to define that need.
4. Define a call to action
There should always be a follow up to a sales meeting. Through the discovery questions and responses, the goal is to define a need—either now or near term. Identifying the next steps is critical, and getting customer confirmation on those action items is necessary to ultimately move to a sale.
5. Execute action items and follow up
Another no-brainer, right? It should be, but it may be difficult for some folks. If too much time goes by, you can lose momentum with the customer. Stay on top of your timelines, and keep your customer posted on the status to showcase your service. Ultimately, the timely execution of your action items will increase the likelihood of a sale and ideally result in a long-term customer.
These steps may not be revolutionary, but when properly executed, these fundamentals can be the difference between winning and losing a sale.
Pat is currently executive vice president of sales at Boundless. Prior to joining Boundless, Pat was vice president of sales for Toppers, a Top 20 industry supplier. Prior to Toppers, he served as vice president of national accounts for Norwood Promotional Products, one of the largest promotional products suppliers in the industry. In his free time, Pat enjoys drinking a cool beverage while attempting to play golf.