For every sales meeting, there’s a dream scenario: all the right decision-makers are in the room, your presentation is flawless, and everyone is happily enjoying the catering while you knock it out of the park. But a lot of preparation goes into achieving that outcome—and you probably want all that work to pay off relatively quickly. That’s why we interviewed Colleen Manning, Director of Sales for ezCater, about how to prepare for an efficient sales meeting. Here are Colleen’s top five tips, so you can focus on the big picture without getting overwhelmed by the details.
1. Arrive Early
The last thing you want to worry about as you prepare for a sales meeting is whether you’ve brought the wrong computer dongle—or whether your caterer’s delivery staff can find the right office building, says Colleen. Snafus like this could cost you the sale, but arriving 10 to 15 minutes early means you’re available to head problems off at the pass. Leave enough time to log on to the Internet, get access to the projector, and ensure that catering has been successfully delivered.
2. Order Meeting-Friendly Catering
Food is one of your most important sales tools, but only if delivery and setup go smoothly. One call from a lost delivery person during the kickoff meeting could tank your entire presentation. To ensure that you can focus all your energy on your pitch, use a reliable catering service that takes care of delivery and setup, Colleen suggests.
In addition to making things more efficient, ordering meeting-friendly catering can help set the right tone, too. “Food brings people together,” Colleen explains. “It brings people to meetings, and everyone looks forward to it as a perk.”
3. Know Your Audience
You log every phone and email interaction with your prospects into your CRM database before you ever step foot in their offices. Now it’s time to use these details to make your prospects feel comfortable about taking the next step. Here’s how you can demonstrate that you understand their office culture and hierarchy:
- Chat about the referrals and references most meaningful to their business. Have you closed a deal with a competitor? Worked in the industry yourself? The more connections you can make with your prospects, the easier it will be to build trust, says Colleen.
- Demonstrate the ROI of companies that have switched to your service. Colleen says, “Bring ROI into the conversation, so your prospects see the tangible results of making the switch.” With all the right numbers at your fingertips, you can give your prospects proof of concept to help seal the deal.
- Make sure you have all the decision-makers in the room. Are the people watching your presentation the ones who decide whether to buy? Make sure you’re giving the hard sell to the right prospective audience, reminds Colleen.
4. Engage with the Room
Before you hit “play” on your pitch deck, you should already know what you’re going to say next. With the content of your sales meeting down pat, you’ll be free to engage everyone at the table. What questions do they have? What feedback are you getting from the room?
When your pitch feels more like a conversation, you’re on the right track, says Colleen. “Keep it as interactive as possible,” she adds.
Streamlining your slides will also encourage the room to engage. If you include too many written details, they’ll be busy reading instead of chatting with you, says Colleen. Instead, prepare for your sales meeting by choosing meaningful images and phrases. That way, prospects will hang on your every word.
5. Talk Next Steps
Want to impress your prospects with how efficient you are? Set up your next steps by the end of the sales meeting. Does your next step align with their expectations? Are you on the same timeline?
“If they have a specific process that takes a week, and your sales quota is set for the end of the month, it might never line up,” says Colleen, describing a rushed and overly ambitious timeline for closing sales. “Know ahead of time what both parties need in order to get there.”
You should all leave the sales meeting with a concrete understanding of what’s going to happen next, how long each step will take, and what the outcome will be, Colleen continues. Make sure you’ve asked the right questions throughout the process to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Use these simple tips to ensure that you’re prepared for your meetings, so you can close more deals faster.
Make sure you order enough food for your sales pitch, so things go smoothly.