If closing deals feels harder and harder, you’re not alone. According to HubSpot, more than a third of salespeople think closing a deal is tougher today than it was two or three years ago. This means your pre-meeting prep is so much more important.
Your sales meeting agenda is a written document that you put together before every meeting. Spend the time to develop your plan in advance so you understand your goals, any background information, your ask, and the location of your meeting. Here are four points to guide your agenda so you can close the deal every time.
1) Determine Your Goal
In your pre-planning, start with your goal for the meeting. Think about factors like where you are in the sales cycle and how long your meeting will be. Your goal for a five-minute pitch is very different than if you have an hour to close the deal.
Keith Watson and his team at Keith Watson Events take these things into account when evaluating meeting goals. He says that if you’re planning something short, make sure it’s educational but compelling. If it’s a longer meeting, you want to demonstrate that you understand your customer’s needs and challenges, while showing that you have the perfect solution. Everything you say or do in the meeting should be serving your ultimate goal.
2) Do Your Homework
Your sales meeting agenda can’t help you unless you’ve gathered information about your prospect. Make sure you have a grasp on their business and their challenges. You are looking for ways to show how you’re the right partner to help them create a successful outcome.
When Watson is pitching a company, he checks out all of the information available online to find out about culture and branding, as well as business priorities. But you also need to know about the people in the room. Who is your audience? What do they care about? How can you personally connect with them? These days there’s plenty of ways to learn about people. Take a look at their public LinkedIn profile to find genuine connection points and conversation starters. It could be as simple as the colleges they attended. You’re looking for something to chat about in those first social minutes of the meeting. Jot these things down as a part of your written plan.
3) Nail the Ending
Use your sales meeting agenda to determine your “ask.” This is a sales meeting, so you’re looking to sell something. What is that, and how does your ask work within your goals for the meeting?
Be as specific as possible here, as it will help plan the rest of the meeting. Your ask could be as simple as setting up the next meeting. Maybe you’d like to do a more in-depth demonstration another day, or bring in additional team members. Maybe it’s time to finalize your contract. This is the most important part of your meeting. Use your pre-planning time to really understand what you want, so you can nail it during the actual meeting. This is your chance to try it out in different ways to see which one works best.
4) Pick the Right Location
Spend the time to think through how your location can help you close your sale. Is this a meeting over drinks, are you one-on-one in the prospect’s office, or are you presenting to a team with your materials and samples?
Use your location to your advantage, but also make sure you have everything you need. If you’re planning to present a deck, you need a room with a projector and a dinner meeting probably won’t work. That doesn’t mean you can’t still utilize the persuasive power of food. Bringing food to a meeting could be a big hit, especially if you need to capture a group’s attention for a while.
Once you create your sales meeting agenda, the only thing left is to practice, practice, practice. That way you see if there’s anything you’ve left out, and fine-tune the pitch, so you’re ready for your meeting.
Marie Hale, founder and CEO of sales and marketing consultancy @revenue recommends actually role playing the presentation with someone sitting in as your prospect. You can anticipate questions, challenges, or things you may have forgotten during pre-planning. Going through the exercise of creating your sales meeting agenda, and then spending the time to practice means you’ll be prepared for whatever happens in your meeting. You may think you can just wing it. You can’t. Be prepared so you don’t become another sales statistic.
Learn how you can use food as a sales tool.