We all know the 7 p’s don’t we? Maybe not, but it is very true that proper planning and preparation prevents particularly poor performance. This is something that is really true within the sales arena. You will find that the more prepared you are the better the outcomes tend to be even to the point that you get the outcome that you prepared for!
This is an area that I find is often the one that sales people may try to freestyle. Not necessarily the big pitch but usually some stepping stone in the bid process. The number of meetings where I have accompanied a sales rep and they have tried to ‘wing’ a meeting is unbelievable. Not only do the meetings usually go off track they often end up with the sales person looking less than competent. Not a great way to win business, So where do you start?
All good meetings need to have an agenda. In a sales scenario they will usually have three or four key topics. I find that any more and it starts to set up a decidedly dreary meeting, Short, sharp and to the point works best and keeps everyone interested. If possible make an agenda available before the meeting to all attendees. They will then know what they need to be bringing to the meeting in relation to their prep work. If it is not relevant or possible to publish an agenda make sure that you write one down in your notebook. This will enable you to retain control.
When setting the agenda you need to start with the end in mind. Make sure that you write down the objective of the meeting and the outcome you are looking for. Once you have done this it should be easy to put down the agenda points that will take you to this position. An example may look like:
Objective – To get agreement to allow one of our technical consultants to review the server architecture at a prospects premises
- Why review server architecture
- How we will go about a review
- Questions and next steps
Once you have the agenda points you can then start building the content that you need. How to structure content for a meeting will be the subject of another blog, but in summary it will consist of a story with a beginning a middle and an end with plenty of questions to keep control and direct to the outcome you want.
Proper planning will allow you to shape meetings how you want them. It will make more effective use of everyone’s time and allow you to stay in control.