Preparing for that first prospect meeting? These eight steps are designed to ensure that you achieve your primary goal—securing a second meeting.
1. Gather background information. Learn as much about them as possible. As you prepare to meet with a business prospect, become familiar with basic information on his or her company. The company’s Web site and local Chamber of Commerce are good places to start. Then, make a list of all the ways your agency’s services will benefit the company.
2. Set a primary goal. Before you leave your office, set a primary goal for your meeting. A realistic primary goal for a first meeting is to set a date to present a comprehensive proposal.
3. Prepare quality materials. Create a family of high-quality printed tools that includes everything from business cards and stationery to printed brochures. Pay close attention to any materials you intend to leave with your prospect, especially if you’re in a competitive bid situation. These materials must help close the sale long after your meeting is over.
4. Observe your prospect carefully. During the meeting, is your prospect sitting forward and nodding with interest, or is he or she sitting back with arms folded and head tilted to one side, indicating a lack of connection, boredom, disinterest or disbelief? Be aware of the physical cues your prospect is sending you and respond accordingly.
5. Ask qualifying questions. A new business meeting isn’t a “pitch.” It’s a conversation–an opportunity to uncover your prospect’s needs and to present solutions for meeting them. If you find yourself doing all the talking in new business meetings, you’re probably talking yourself right out of business. It’s just as important to ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers as it is to provide solid, helpful information.
6. Present case histories. Prepare about half a dozen client case histories demonstrating your agency’s range of capabilities, and be prepared to discuss them. Case histories are great for positioning your agency against competitors. Never directly criticize a competitor. Instead, present a case history (in other words, tell a story) that demonstrates the benefits your clients have enjoyed by working with you.
7. Offer good solutions. In order to successfully close any business transaction, the prospect must be convinced you provide the solution to his or her challenge. It all comes down to how well they believe your product or service will meet their needs and their confidence in you to carry out your promises. To close, summarize your suggested solution and answer any final questions that may stand in the way of the prospect’s decision.
8. Take action. You were fully prepared, used observations, asked great questions, listened carefully to the answers, presented case histories and offered solid solutions. Now it’s time to ask for what you want. It’s amazing how many producers take a meeting successfully to this point and then simply stop and walk away without closing for their primary goal.