Anyone who works in the professional world is a sales person, even if your title doesn’t say “sales.” Real estate agents, independent consultants, bankers, customer service representatives, even doctors and dentists. All of these professions require guiding others through a process and selling the clients on your expertise so that they become repeat business. Each client becomes a referral source for their family members, friends, and community.
“But I’m in middle management,” you think. “I manage people and help build teams, we have a separate department that focuses on sales.” Guess what? You’re also a sales person. Who are your prospects? Your team and your managers.
Basically, we’re all selling something to someone, it’s just not always obvious. Which is why anyone can benefit from learning how to run a pitch or sales meeting—whatever form that takes in your current profession.
If you’re not experienced in pitching or running a sales meeting, you’re not alone.
Many of us didn’t intend to be in sales, and never learned this in school. Running a sales meeting (or anything that requires buy-in from your audience) can be a nerve wracking experience, but remember, everyone, at some point, feels this way. There is strength in knowing you’re not alone, and you’re most certainly not.
According to Forbes Magazine, 55% of salespeople lack basic sales skills. To add to the stress, prepping for a bigger sales meeting with an entire team can be even more intimidating.
Feeling confident and prepared are two main ingredients in a successful pitch, whether it’s one-on-one or one-on-one-hundred. Here are some steps to help get you where you need to be.
Pre-meeting tip 1: Analyze your relationship with the prospect.
In The Best Seller, favorable access is incredibly important because trust is transferable, and trust is the not-so-secret ingredient to long-term, fruitful relationships as well as successful sales. Think about the type of access you have with your prospect or audience. Did it come from a referral, was it an inbound lead (someone who found you first), or from a cold call (no prior contact)?
But if favorable access isn’t at your disposal, don’t worry, you can still build trust in the meeting itself. Here’s how to plan for any sales meeting, and build up favorable access before, and during your meeting.
Pre-meeting tip 2: Create a thoughtful agenda.
Having a plan will help you feel more prepared, show your prospect that you value their time and help set expectations on what the meeting will accomplish. Everyone comes in with information, objectives to tackle and
As you’ll read in The Best Seller, great agendas don’t just disarm tension, they also flow like a good story. Start with the prospect’s history to get more information on how they’ve achieved success to this point, move onto highlighting challenges or trends you’ve noticed or assumed about their situation, ask for feedback and challenges to those assumptions and then guide them to help formulate a solution for those challenges.
Meeting tip 1: Put the prospect in the driver’s seat.
After you’ve warmed up with a little small talk (a little goes a long way!), put the prospect in the driver’s seat. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them where they prefer to begin and if there’s anything missing on the agenda.
This symbolic handing over of control gives them confidence and shows them they are important, their time is important and their needs are important. As you follow the agenda and take their lead, remember that the goal is to build trust through an honest, but organized dialogue. Which brings us to…
Meeting tip 2: Trust is the ultimate goal.
Establishing trust in and of itself, is a success, even when it doesn’t result in a sale. But how can you do that? First, study up and practice your active listening skills. At some point in the meeting, it may become clear that what you have to offer isn’t actually what the prospect needs. Recognizing this early on saves both parties time and energy, and builds even more trust.
If you determine there is a path for the prospect to gain a solution from your sale, keep the dialogue flowing to align the potential value with their pain points. Mutually beneficial is the key phrase to the most successful sales.
Meeting tip 3: Evaluate your experience.
No meeting, however awkward, exhilarating or anything in between, should be overlooked as an opportunity to learn and grow. So, before the experience becomes old and stale, take a moment to leave a few notes for yourself. Here are some questions to guide you:
- What are some of the ways you were able to build trust through the meeting?
- How did you show them you genuinely care about helping them solve a problem?
- Did they reciprocate or express an interest in your service or product?-How comfortable do you feel following up with the prospect?
- Did you set a follow up appointment, call or meeting?
- If you determined your product or service wasn’t the best fit, did you offer to send other ideas or referrals? Make sure you follow up promptly to keep the trust intact.
Congratulations: You did it!
The final step after completing a sales or pitch meeting is to pat yourself on the back. You did it! In addition to building trust, you also fostered a new relationship by showing an interest in another person, their company, their pain points and their goals.
Have faith that this will pay dividends later and as for the sooner part: If you make the sale, you’ll likely face fewer objections when it’s time to close the deal, gain referrals for future business and build goodwill in yourself as well as your organization.
High stakes meetings are important. Are you building relationships during meetings or pushing people away?
Katie Bishop and her dad, Doug Reichardt worked together over 5 years to finish a novel to help guide others in business, sales, and life. Their novel, now available on Amazon, follows a persistent young woman struggling in her career who finds inspiration and wisdom in her journey. Want an early copy? Stay in the loop.