There are Only Two Objectives of Initial Sales Meetings
It’s important to understand that there are only two objectives of initial sales meetings: qualify the opportunity and create enough interest to compel your stakeholder to move to the next step in the sales process.
You Set an Initial Sales Meeting, Now What?
On a prospecting call you set an appointment with a new prospect. Your stakeholder agreed to give you thirty-minutes for an initial sales meeting.
Now you’re concerned that thirty minutes isn’t enough time to fully qualify the opportunity AND do a demo AND present your solution.
This is where many new salespeople go wrong. They treat the initial sales meeting as the ONLY sales conversation. Therefore they attempt to pack the entire sales process into that one meeting and close the deal.
It rarely works.
This is why it is important to stick to the objectives of the initial sales meeting:
the prospect is a good fit for your product or service,
there is an open buying window,
the stakeholder you are meeting with has the authority to make decisions,
there are insurmountable roadblocks: contract obligations, budget restrictions, incumbent vendor relationships.
For this reason, the first objective of the initial meeting is qualifying. This means, rather than you pitching OR demoing OR offering solutions OR telling them “a little bit about your company,” you should be asking open-ended questions and listening.
Asking questions and listening gives you insight into your prospect’s unique situation. It also helps you determine whether or not it makes sense to move to the next step.
Once you’ve qualified the opportunity and you feel that it makes sense to move forward, you simply need to demonstrate to your stakeholder that there is value in meeting with you again.
Begin by restating and summarizing your understanding of their problems, concerns, and issues. Then gain confirmation that you are on the right track.
Simply say, “Abby, this is what I hear you saying . . . Did I get that right?”
The check step:
Demonstrates to your stakeholder that you are listening and making a sincere attempt to understand them.
Makes you far more likable which compels them to want to move to the next step with you.
Allows you seamlessly transition to a next step request with a value-bridge that connecting the dots between their problems and why it makes sense for them to spend more time with you.
Value-Bridge to the Next Step
Once you summarize their situation, simply tell a brief story that demonstrates how you have helped other people/companies in similar situations. This gives you an opportunity to give a short overview of your product/service/features in their language rather than yours.
Then present the next logical step in the process, explain why it matters, and ASK for time on their calendar.
Just say, “Abby, based on everything you’ve told me, the next best step for us is a meeting where I can ask deeper questions and really get to know you and organization better. That way I’ll be able to tailor a solution to your unique situation. How about next Thursday at 2pm?
Do not pitch features of your product or service that are not relevant to their situation. Do not hit them with a kitchen sink data dump about your company. Don’t talk about detailed solutions, pricing, implementation, or get sidetracked with meaningless red-herring objections.
Your only objective at this point in the initial sales meeting is to land the next meeting.
Stand Out From Competitors
The good news is that most initial sales meetings are successful when you take the time to truly listen, bridge to the next step, and ask for what you want. When you do, you’ll come off as more professional and stand out from your competitors who, far too often, confuse initial sales meetings for a pitch fest.