I can’t count the number of trainings I have done that emphasised the vital importance of setting an agenda at the beginning of a sales meeting. It seems like such a basic step, but having an agenda has so many benefits, and it takes less than a minute at the beginning of your sales meeting.
For me, the sales meeting agenda is so important, I once gave a salesperson feedback saying “that went wrong from the moment you opened your mouth!” when they started a meeting without an agenda. I’ve learned a lot about how to give feedback since then, but my position on sales meeting agendas has only continued to be reinforced.
The goal of this article is to help you structure your own sales meeting agenda, as well as highlight some of the benefits of starting your meetings and calls in this way.
Sound Like A Professional
One of the most important mental states your prospect needs to buy from you is confidence. If your prospect isn’t confident in you or your solution, you will not be selling them anything. Setting an agenda tells your prospect that you have done this before, that this is not your first rodeo. Confidently and concisely explaining the sales process helps your prospect see you as a sales professional and helps establish a strong first impression for you personally.
Tell Your Prospect What To Expect
The Aristotelian Triptych says “tell them what you will tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them”. This approach focuses your prospect’s attention on what messages you will shortly be delivering. It also allows them to relax and be more open with you. Have you ever watched a horror movie and wondered if there is a psycho hiding somewhere about to jump out? How does that feel? Now imagine yourself as a prospect waiting for a sales pitch to jump out and surprise them. By laying out all the steps that will happen during your sales meeting, your prospect will feel comfortable knowing exactly what they can expect.
Invite Their Input From The Beginning
A sales conversation should be two-way, and this starts right from the beginning. You may have some things you want to cover with your prospect, but there is a good chance they have specific questions they want to explore as well. I’d you don’t invite their input from the begining, your conversation becomes a monologue, and no one really enjoys sitting there and being pitched to. Don’t just invite questions, but really ask them what would benefit them to cover during your sales meeting.
Create A Natural Segue To Your Sales Pitch
One of the most evident shifts in a sales conversation is when the salesperson has asked all their questions and then starts to pitch. There is a visible, physical shift as the apprehension and tension of facing rejection begins to approach. The voice goes up a tone, palms start getting sweaty and any sense of confidence dries up much like the salesperson’s suddenly dry mouth. Instead of experiencing this, create a natural segue into selling that your prospect is both expecting as well as happy to explore. We will look at the exact wording in the examples below, but you should agree in the sales meeting agenda that you will only try to sell if there is some obvious value for the prospect that arises during the discovery conversation. This way, when you are finished with your questions and you have identified the value you can offer, your prospect is interested in progressing and hearing your sales pitch.
Ok, so now you know why we set an agenda at the beginning of a sales meeting, let’s look at specifically how we structure these linguistically.
The sales meeting agenda is formed of four parts: discovery questions, solution discussion, sales pitch, prospect’s agenda points.
Also known as a needs analysis or fact find, discovery questions allow you to learn more about your prospect’s current situation, desired outcome and identify some of the gaps between those two points. Generally there are two types of sales questions, discovery and positioning, that allow you to open the information gates before moving in the direction of a particular opportunity.
“I’d like to spend some time understanding your business and it’s requirements”.
Rather than jumping into the pitch immediately, spend some time educating the prospect on potential solutions to their challenges. This could be a wider presentation on options available in your industry and their relative pros and cons. This could also be a general presentation of you, your business and some of the products and services that you offer.
“After that, we can discuss what the XYZ industry looks like and some of the options available to help solve any challenges that exist”.
Remember, you need to tell your prospect you will be trying to sell them something. We also need to imply that this is only if there is some potential benefit in working together. If there is an overlap between their needs and your potential benefit, you’ll pitch. If not, it gives you both an easy way to end the conversation.
“Then, if we find some crossover and it seems to make sense discussing a specific solution, we can see how that looks for your company”.
Finally, invite your prospect to put their interests and questions into the conversation up front.
“Is there anything in particular you would like to cover today?”
If we put that all together, this is what a sales agenda could sound like:
Sales Meeting Agenda
Ok, here is how our sales meetings normally go (Not Your First Rodeo). First, I’d like to spend some time understanding your business and it’s requirements (Discovery Questions). After that, we can discuss what the XYZ industry looks like and some of the options available to help solve any challenges that exist (Solution Discussion). Then, if we find some crossover and it seems to make sense discussing a specific solution, we can see how that looks for your company (Sales Pitch). Is there anything in particular you would like to cover today (Prospect’s Agenda)?
A few additional seconds setting the expectations at the beginning of the sales meeting have a huge potential impact on the quality of the interaction. Feel free to share your sales meeting agenda in the comments below to show how you applied these ideas.