How do the best reps prepare for their sales meetings? They plan their work, and work their plan. Having a well-planned and repeatable process helps reps go into their meetings confident by finding out a lot of the answers up front.
We spoke to our sales enablement team about common threads of the most successful reps, and we put together a checklist for reps to follow (scroll to the bottom!).
Here are 10 things to do before, during, and after your next sales meeting.
1. Uncover the buyer’s trigger events
A trigger event refers to an event that occurs, causing a buyer to be more likely to search for a new product. For example, if there’s a new head of marketing at an organization and you sell marketing automation software, that would be a trigger event. Another example would be a merger or acquisition – there are a lot of new processes being put into place where a new tool or service could come into play.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator has plenty of filters and tools that make this discovery and prospecting process easier. But trigger events are happening all the time. Set up alerts on LinkedIn or Google to find out when one of your leads has a new job or role within a company, or to stay apprised of any company or market changes.
2. Identify a champion or decision maker
If you can get to the decision maker right away, you have an opportunity to shorten the sales cycle. But if you’re targeting someone that’s less accessible, like a C-level executive, it’s important to find a champion within the organization who will advocate for you.
For example, if your decision maker is the CMO and you can’t reach them, cultivate a champion in the marketing director or manager. Then help them lay out a business case to their internal stakeholders as to why they should find out more about your tools or services.
3. Identify and address potential objections
You should be well-versed in any and all potential objections that a buyer would propose – including price, functionality, or competitive differentiators. Researching the organization beforehand can help uncover some of these potential objections. For example, if the buyer is already a client of one of your competitors, be prepared to speak to how you stack up.
Prepare by viewing courses on objection handling or doing a coaching activity with your manager to roleplay your response to help give yourself a confidence boost. If an objection pops up during the meeting, speak to it and then pivot the conversation.
4. Review annual reports
Annual or quarterly reports help give you an inside view of the buyer’s organization. This includes the company’s vision, mission, as well as any financial trigger points.
Maybe they didn’t meet their growth goals last year – view this as a trigger event. Show buyers that not only are you familiar with their company, but you can speak to their challenges and how your product can help them improve next year.
5. View relevant sales content
Now that you know your trigger events, you should view all sales content related to those triggers (or the buyer’s journey, depending on how your sales process is set up) that’s provided by your organization. This way you can dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s and go into the meeting confident and prepared.
For example, if your buyer is going through a merger you’ll want to view content on how your solution can help them through that critical process, so you can present and speak to it during the sales meeting.
6. Identify who needs to be involved (on your team)
Think proactively. If your sales manager or someone in senior leadership needs to be involved at any point in the conversation, prep them with the key information, schedule time on their calendar and make sure they are aware of any necessary travel.
Sales pro tip – if you are traveling to another state to do business, try to connect with any existing clients or prospects in that area while you’re there.
7. Set an agenda for the meeting
This is an often overlooked but critical step in the selling process. Set clear expectations for the buyer by sending an agenda ahead of time that outlines what you will be discussing during the meeting and what they will learn. Make sure to confirm that it’s still alright to take up an hour of their time – the last thing you want to happen is get halfway through a demo and find out your buyer only had 30 minutes.
Set expectations for yourself and for your manager as well – what is the desired outcome of the call? What will next steps be?
8. Do a technical dry run
Know all of the quirks of your demo account. If there’s functionality that’s slower or a temporary glitch that week, don’t spend as much time on that feature or be prepared to explain it and have answers. The same thing is true for any other technology you use during meetings. If you use software to run your meetings, make sure it’s set up beforehand.
If your meeting is onsite with a client, get there early and practice using their in-house technology. Make sure the wireless internet is working properly, that you can easily connect to the projector, and so on.
9. Always follow up with your champion
Even if you totally crush the meeting, it means nothing without proper follow up. Some reps prefer to follow up right away, and some prefer to schedule an hour during the day to perform all of their follow up tasks.
During your follow up, keep in mind the specific pain points you discussed on your call. If your buyer complained about having to use multiple tools, send them a video that explains how your software is an all-in-one tool that will streamline their process and save them time.
Save yourself time by keeping all templates or contracts in a content portal so that you can easily find them when you want to reference them or send them to the buyer.
10. Schedule time for improvement
No matter how the meeting goes, the most successful sales reps always ask how they can get better. Work with your manager or respected ‘A’ players on your team to learn areas of improvement you can take away from the meeting.
Once you have the feedback, schedule time in your day to work on those skills – whether it’s continuous training you’re already enrolled in, or just-in-time training to get up to speed on a new development or skill. Once you complete the training, take an assessment or roleplay with your manager to see how you’ve improved.
In sales, your training is never really complete. Even if you’ve mastered your core skills there will always be changes in messaging, new sales methodologies, or a new product to pitch.
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