Whatever business is like, there are some basic dos and don’ts you should definitely be aware of while conducting business meetings. Today, our team has decided to share with you 10 tips that will help you ace your meetings.
1. Do your homework before your meeting
Before meeting with a prospect, you should know as much as possible about them and their organization. Use Linkedin to find information such as their position, level of seniority, hometown, what college he or she went to etc. The idea here is for you to know your interlocutor well and start building a relationship through your first meeting. Of course, you should know all the necessary details about the company you’re trying to do business with. Why are these steps so crucial? For at least two main reasons:
- Avoid asking your prospect basic questions he will expect you to know during the meeting.
- Stay a step ahead of your prospect as you will know more about him than he does about you.
2. Master the 5 minute icebreaker chat
Before beginning a meeting, having a small talk with your prospect is a fundamental point you shouldn’t neglect. This small talk is all about creating a connection and building rapport. What you’ve learned through your research will definitely come in handy when initiating that chat. Your prospect loves jazz and you love jazz too? Or perhaps you both play tennis? Establishing common interests is a good way to start a conversation, but bringing it up in a smooth way is a must. Be careful, there’s a few topics you should never talk about: politics and religion – you risk alienating your prospect with these two subjects. Also, don’t forget that laughter is an easy and powerful way to make a catchy and human introduction to the meeting, as mentioned by Whitney Sales, creator of the Sales method:
“I like to start with laughter, if possible. Laughter establishes—or restores—a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people. It literally forces two people to take pleasure in the company of one another”.
3. Be punctual
It might be useful here to clarify what “being on time” really means. The rule is simple: arriving 10 minutes early is arriving on time. Arriving on time is being late. Arriving 10 minutes late is being rude. That’s how it works in the U.S. and punctuality is the #1 rule of the Silicon Valley etiquette.
4. Articulate and lead your business meeting
You have to bear in mind that your goal is to demonstrate that your solution will improve the existing one or lack thereof. To do so, you should ask strategic questions about the company’s current internal processes. You need to understand the weak points of their current system so that you can then present the strengths of your product in comparison with that of your competitors.
5. Remember and use your prospect’s name during the meeting
Who likes to be forgotten? Easy guess – no one. So make sure you remember your prospect’s name and use it intelligently throughout the meeting. Use their name in your questions, for example: “What is your internal process, John? Karen, can you tell me more about the current solution you are using?”…
6. Listen to your prospect
For your first meeting, the more your prospect talks, the more you will discover his pain points and collect key insights directly from his own words. So listen to him attentively and don’t hesitate to re-use his vocabulary. In the case of a qualification meeting – the first short meeting – your prospect should roughly speak about 75% of the time. That’s what Robert Falcone gleaned from hundreds of product demos, as explained in his book “Just F*cking Demo”:
“If you know what their primary concerns are, you can show them just enough of your product that aligns with their immediate problems and get a better result.”
Letting your potential client talk is imperative in order to anticipate and handle any potential objections he may have and regain control by pivoting your presentation.
7. Don’t overlook the power of storytelling
You have a story to tell about the creation of your company. It is valuable. Describing your beginnings and your founding story reveals that you can understand your prospect’s challenges:
“The narrative of how the founders came up with an idea for a product and the feedback they received from their first customers. This narrative is the validation for a company’s and product’s existence and is something every company has. To abandon these stories is to neglect why you decided to build a company in the first place,” says Whitney Sales.
8. Always leave with solidified next steps and remember to follow up
Before ending the meeting, make sure that your potential client is on the same page as you with regards to next steps. Determine who the decision makers are, try to secure a second meeting for a demo or offer to let them test your product so that they can calculate the potential ROI of your solution. Always send a follow-up email, no later than 48 hours after the meeting and cc’ everyone who was in attendance or may have an interest in it.
9. Work on your body language
Nonverbal communication plays a great role in your business meetings. Are we stating the obvious? Maybe so and we fully assume it. It’s worth noting that people don’t just buy products, they buy products from people. So be likable, be warm and use empathy. Not convinced by the power of nonverbal communication? Watch social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s famous Ted Talk, you will likely pay more attention to what your body language communicates to others.
10. Use creativity to transcend expectations
This tip – maybe the hardest to implement – could really help you stand out. It will demonstrate to your prospect your keen understanding of his business and how your value proposition will not only solve his problems but better his company. Using creativity and wit is key. One of the most relevant example that can be quoted here is the pitch made by Don Draper, Mad Men’s first character, to Eastman Kodak who wants a campaign for their slide projector based on the wheel. In this extract, Don Draper not only provides him a wheel as requested, he goes further than expectations. Judge by yourself.
“Good luck at your next meeting”.