The first meeting with a potential customer in many cases determines the outcome of all negotiations. For the sales manager, each successful meeting brings the contract closer and affects the salary.
Expecting a contract to be signed at the first meeting is at least weird. At best, getting to know the client will be the beginning of successful business cooperation and will lead to new meetings and interaction.
For a manager holding the first meeting with a prospective client, the main goals are:
- To evaluate the prospects and readiness of the client for cooperation;
- defining the main needs of the interlocutor;
- finding out which of the products and services offered by your company may be useful and interesting for him/her;
- offering sample products, displaying work samples;
- receiving feedback from the client.
At this moment, the manager does not sell the product itself, and sells itself (ie, creates a favorable impression, interested in the client, builds a relationship of trust with him). It is easy to get to this stage with a B2B appointment setting. That it has turned out, it is necessary to work out in advance various scenarios to be ready to each of them (instead of to hope that all will pass easily and it will be possible to be guided on a place).
Preparation for the meeting with the client consists of two stages – informational and organizing.
Before you make a meeting plan, gather all possible information about the client, namely:
- Learn about the specifics of their business: read professional literature, remember the most frequently used terms (they can be used during negotiations, showing the customer that you are on the same side).
- Explore the client’s corporate website. Pay special attention to the headings of top management and staff – perhaps it is with these people you have to talk.
- Ask about the success of competitors in the same area, determine what position on the market takes your potential client. This will allow you to better understand their needs, prospects and constraints in order to develop a suitable offer for them.
And, of course, you need to have an excellent understanding of the products and services that are offered to your client. You need to know every detail about them and be prepared to answer the client’s questions during the meeting. Your task – a decent, confident and comprehensive presentation of your product or service.
This stage consists of resolving all organizational issues regarding future negotiations. First of all, it is necessary to agree to a meeting with the client. Usually, it is done by phone. Find out when and at what time it will be convenient for the potential client to talk in person, and make an appointment.
Examples of places to meet with a client:
The territory of the client. Usually the office of the client company. You can only prepare for such meetings in the most general terms – you will still have to navigate on site.
Your area. A separate office or meeting room is best for meeting with your client. You should not start getting to know the client and discussing important details right in the hallway, on the move, or have a meeting in a crowded room.
Neutral territory. Many places fall into this category, from a conference room rented to quiet cafes (a restaurant will not be suitable for this purpose, as both sides will have to be constantly distracted by waiters, food, random impressions). Remember that the purpose of the meeting is to have a business conversation with the client, not to eat together.
For meetings with clients – both potential and those already working with the company – small, quiet places are suitable. However, the success of a meeting is more determined by the manager’s behavior than by the location.