“Unproductive meetings are meetings that have no structure.”

- Michael Zipursky, Consulting Success

We very much agree and believe that a key metric of your sales team is productivity. A productive client meeting is a client meeting in which your sales rep reaches the objective of the meeting, which could be anything from qualifying the lead to closing the deal depending on the client’s stage in the sales funnel.

Reaching the objective requires a structured meeting. That implies a logical order of steps that support your sales rep and help him or her to work towards the objective. We have investigated the matter and suggest that (1) a strong introduction, (2) uncovering the client’s challenges and (3) presenting a solution are three key elements that make up a good client meeting structure.

#1 Introduction

The introduction can be said to consist of both an informal and a formal introduction. Sales reps rarely jump straight into the business proposition but most often engage in a bit of casual small talk to establish a good relation. This informal introduction can be short or long depending on the client and requires the sales rep’s ability to read the situation and adapt to the client, which is crucial in order to have effective client meetings.

The more formal introduction is where you balance your expectations and both parties clarify what their objectives are in this business cooperation. This can improve your sales process in more ways: In the first meeting, it can help you qualify the lead, and when you get further and the lead becomes a client, the balancing of expectations can help you stay on track and avoid misunderstandings.

Hubspot states that setting SMART goals is an essential step in a client kickoff meeting. SMART is an acronym meaning that goals must be specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timebound. E.g. an increase in sales is a goal, but it is not SMART. What product or service sales do you wish to increase? What percentage increase do you wish to hit? What sales activity are you targeting? What is the timeframe? SMART is a nice and easy way of remembering to ask questions like these and elaborate on your goals together with the client. Setting SMART goals early on and continuously returning to them in client meetings ensures that you and the client are on the same page and makes it easier for you to prove your results.

#2 Uncovering challenges

Uncovering the client’s challenges is essential, not only in the initial meetings, but throughout the cooperation. You and your business must continue to stay relevant to your clients and help them face the ever-changing challenges in their respective markets.

For you to do this you need to make the client talk and then listen carefully. The focus should not be on selling but figuring out what the client’s needs are. In this regard it can be difficult to find a balance between chatter and discussing key issues.

In an article with tips to effective client meetings, Reuters among other things suggest that you ask the right questions and steer the conversation. Advice that applies very well here. To uncover the client’s challenges, you both need to make the client talk and still have a relevant conversation. Therefore, you must ask open-ended questions that leave space for the client’s interpretation but ask questions that concerns e.g. processes or operations that are relevant to your business, and in that way steer the conversation.

Get three tips to creating relevant marketing content that enables sales.

#3 Present solution

This third and final element is where the money is: If you can present a solution that addresses the challenges mentioned by the client, you are more likely to close the deal – or retain the client. Again, refrain from pitching your product or service as you would usually do but stay relevant to the individual client and talk about how your product or service can solve the challenges that they have described to you.

It can be beneficial to utilize case stories in this part of the meeting, if you have previous experience and documented results from working with a similar client or industry. This is what Sales Hacker refers to as the WHY of the client meeting. You must know why you are meeting this specific client, and that requires understanding them, their objectives and their challenges as described in the previous two steps. Using case stories in the presentation of your solution verifies your expertise in the field and proves that you have successfully solved similar challenges.

See an example of how we utilize customer success stories on our website.

Briefly summarizing the above, a well-working client meeting structure consists of an introduction where sales rep and client balance expectations, then the sales rep uncovers what challenges the client is facing, and lastly the sales rep provides the client with a solution to those challenges that involves your product or service.

If you are looking for a solution that can help your sales reps to stay relevant in client meetings, Napp might be the platform for you. If you would like to learn more about client meetings and sales productivity, then sign up to our monthly newsletter.

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