When we deconstructed the sales process in Never Be Closing, we started with the face-to-face meeting, the most important event in the sales process. We worked backwards to the beginning of the sales process, and forward to the steps that help you mine the meeting to build a productive relationship. You could argue that the whole sales process is built to leverage the face-to face meeting. Preparing well and debriefing all have the goal of increasing the impact of the face-to-face meeting.
One way to leverage your face-to-face meeting and increase it’s impact is to go with a colleague. It requires a bit more structure, because you now have two mouths instead of one. The risk is that you and your colleague do twice as much talking and only half as much listening.
So have roles for your meeting. One person, the person who has a better sense of meeting process, and what content they want to get out of the meeting, plays the role of the leader. The other plays the role of the listener. The meeting leader does the lion’s share of carrying the conversation for the sales team, which is mostly asking questions.
The listener observes and listens to the client’s responses and reactions without the burden of having to contribute to the conversation. The listener also takes notes.
Good notes are critical to getting the most out of a meeting with a client. Because it’s not easy to lead a productive dialog and capture what was said, the listener pays a big dividend in leveraging your meeting. When you take notes by yourself, notes are cryptic- you can’t leave the conversation to write things down. With a partner, notes can be copious.
Since the listener has more mental bandwidth to think about the ramifications of what the client is saying, the note-taker/listener will often have follow up questions that the meeting leader will have missed. As meeting leader, ask the note-taker if they have any questions before moving on to a new topic.
One useful technique is that instead of introducing yourself, you can introduce each other. It allows you to be more playful in your introductions. Plus, you might learn something about how you’re perceived by letting your colleague introduce you to your client.
The most powerful benefit to going to a meeting with a colleague is debriefing the meeting with your team. This is where two brains are so much better than one. With two people who attended the meeting, you’ll remember different things and come up with more and different ideas to reach out to your client. And, you’ll have better notes with which to work.
The ideas from this post come from Tim and Tim’s book Never Be Closing.