In yesterday’s blog post, we discussed the idea of considering a sales appointment as an extension of a regular corporate meeting. We looked at understanding the type of meeting you should engage in and the purpose for it, and the first of two critical components, having an agenda.
Today’s post will cover the need for a meeting to have an effective referee, and the culture you should establish for your sales appointments with your prospects.
1. Decide whether an appointment is about alignment or creation.
2.1. “A meeting has two critical components: [one of them is] an agenda.”
First, let’s be clear: the onus always falls on you, the sales rep, to be the referee of a meeting, because you control the flow of information.
Being a good appointment “referee” is more art than science, but the number one rule Lopp states, is that the referee must be aware of the progress being made in the appointment.
“All active participants in a meeting can instinctively sense progress, and when progress isn’t being made, they get cranky and start looking for the exit . . . the defining characteristic is the perceptions of the meeting participants. A good referee is not only making sure the majority of the attendees believe progress is being made, they are aware of who does not believe that progress is being made at any given moment.”
This is harder in an inside sales environment, where visual and other non-verbal communication cues are lacking. Pay attention to the pace and tone of your voice, and how the prospect responds. Are they matching your level of intensity? Is the prospect interjecting occasionally, and asking questions? A passive voice on the other end of the line often means you’re losing them.
Given the choice between having an appointment with you and actually making the “hard” decision to buy, the prospect will choose the appointment every time. There’s no risk involved in sitting down for another 30 minutes with you, and it gives them an excuse to “look busy” with their boss.
Without an expectation of progress between appointments, there’s no reason to have them—and when it becomes clear that real action and results aren’t forthcoming, dump the meeting.
“Look for the glaring danger signs for a meeting that is doomed whether it’s a lack of preparation, the absence of a key player, or the fact the [prospect] is wound up about another issue entirely.”
“Have the courage to stop [a] meeting five minutes into the scheduled hour because there is no discernible way to make progress.”
In the end, as Michael Lopp states, “The definition of a successful meeting is that when the meeting is done, it need never occur again.”
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