Finally, that prospect you’ve had at the start of your sales pipeline for months has agreed to meet. It’s time to prepare for the meeting.
There are two elements to preparing for a sales meeting: the first is preparing your attitude, (and if you haven’t read the first part of our sales series, we recommend you check it out: sales starting point: Attitude), the second is research.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to researching the company before that first sales meeting. Either you can thoroughly investigate the company, or you can go straight in there without doing any research at all.
So which way is best?
Preparing for a sales meeting – The full research approach
If your preference is to research the company before your appointment, it’s always best to make sure you fully understand the company and the industry they operate within.
Nothing stalls the progress of a meeting more than making the wrong assumptions or delivering incorrect information about the client back to them. However, if you get this research right, it demonstrates that you’re familiar with the industry and have an understanding of the top-level company objectives. This can go a long way in establishing confidence in your abilities.
The best places to do company research include:
- Companies House
- Reviews platforms
- Social media
- LinkedIn profile of the person you’re meeting
- Partnering websites
TOP TIP: Remember, looking at a company website or literature alone won’t give you a true reflection of what the company needs. A company’s marketing is (or should be) customer focused. It’s giving you a clue as to what they want the end goal to appear to be, not how they operate.
Think Wizard of Oz – you want to see ‘the man behind the curtain’, not the Great and Powerful Oz.
And it’s this very sentiment that leads people to consider the second approach when preparing for that first sales meeting:
Preparing for a sales meeting – The open approach
The main benefit of the open approach to sales meeting research is you shouldn’t have any preconceptions or assumptions.
It’s always best to do a little research, like understanding who you’re meeting and the purpose of the meeting. However, only doing this basic research should mean you don’t have any preconceptions about the company. You’ll have to ask questions and seriously pay attention to their answers.
This approach can make the meeting feel more natural. However, it does rely on your skills as an interviewer. If this is something you’re concerned about, it’s best to write down some questions you know you need answering before you enter the meeting – it’s always best to know what you don’t know. Then, towards the end of the meeting, you can quickly check down your list to see if you can answer each question.
What is the best sales preparation approach?
At the end of the day, neither of these approaches has been proven to be better or worse than the other. However, understanding each method should help you refine your chosen technique, and you may even find that your approach is entirely dependent on the industry or individual client.
Whichever position you take, it’s about working in the best way for you. Your objective during these meetings should always be to gather enough information to effectively answer their needs with your product or service – and close the deal. How you get that information is up to you.
If you’re still unsure, one of the most effective ways to understand which approach to take can be to practice a technique called ‘Mental Rehearsal’. This visualisation process is what top-performing athletes use to help prepare themselves before a competitive performance.
Mental Rehearsal is designed to help you visualise your journey to success. This can be visualising your walk to the car, the car to the meeting, the questions in the meet and the handshake accepting the deal at the end. It may be that by mapping out this journey, you identify where barriers to your success are going to be, and can help you think about how you’re going to overcome them – either through research or writing a question to ask in the meeting.
There are lots of resources on visualisation techniques online. This one from American coach Jack Canfield is simple to follow and provides a practical example of Mental Rehearsal.
If you need help preparing for a meeting, or want to discuss either approach to preparation, please get in touch.
If you’re new to ETC, why not contact us for a free new business review? We’ll spend two hours with you, giving you professional coaching and will leave you with actions for immediate implementation.