“You need a game plan”
A well-executed client meeting depends on more than just the time spent in the meeting itself. According to Preben Braagard, CEO in Coachers, you first need to plan and structure the client meeting for it to be effective. Preben Braagaard explains that in Coachers they call this a game plan.
A game plan can be interpreted and tailored to every client, but it goes for all game plans that they should consist of milestones. Preben Braagaard points to the following milestones as the starting point for having effective client meetings.
- Good preparation
- Strong opening at the meeting
- Balance expectations
- Short pitch presentation of both companies
- Uncovering the challenges that the client faces
- Present a solution either at present or next meeting
- Negotiation of terms and conditions
- Closing and signing the deal
It is evident here that these milestones are phases that go beyond the first client meeting and they illustrate that an effective client meeting is also a question of effective preparation and follow-up. There may be more or less or different milestones for different clients, but the ones mentioned above can be used as your game plan template.
Preben Braagaard highlights that the first phase and first milestone towards a successful client meeting is to do your homework:
“You have to prepare by familiarizing yourself with the challenges this client and this industry faces: figure out what problems your company can solve based on your industry experience.”
However, one thing is preparing for the company you are meeting, another thing that must be considered is the human you are meeting. Preben Braagaard points out that this too is an important part of preparing. He suggests that you use your previous history with this person as an advantage or use LinkedIn and Facebook to figure out what type of person you will be meeting. This gives you an edge on the actual meeting.
The good sales rep
How much time you should spend on the different phases in the client meeting depends on what type of client you are talking to and your sales reps’ skills. Preben Braagaard explains:
“It is a matter of chemistry. Sometimes you must make room for informal conversation and other times the client wants to talk business immediately. The skilled sales rep can turn the chatter up and down and adapt to the feedback he or she receives from the client. It is a matter of picking up signals, being able to read them and adjusting your behavior if the plan is not working.”
Preben Braagaard elaborates and says that the topics discussed during a meeting should be what the client is concerned with. You should not spend too much time talking about yourself and your product but rather focus on finding the main challenge that the client is having and how you can solve that.
As mentioned, the effective client meeting consists of more phases than the meeting itself. When the meeting has been held and it comes to the follow-up, Preben Braagaard explains that the most important thing is to do exactly what you agreed upon with the client – and preferably more:
“Meet the expectations that the client has voiced in the meeting. Take control of the process and show that you have the overview by being proactive. The client must not remind you about agreements – be a step ahead in the process. Then the client experiences you as a professional.”
As a part of the post-meeting-process you can benefit from evaluating the client meeting. Preben Braagaard explains that you should look at your game plan again. Ask yourself how the different phases went and whether you reached your milestones. You can even ask your client what he or she thinks. Preben Braagaard points out that at the end of the day it is the client who is the right party to evaluate how things went.
3 key elements in an effective client meeting
To sum it all up, we put Preben Braagaard on the spot and ask him to boil the good client meeting down to three key elements. He answers the following:
“(1) Your personality, (2) your empathy for the client and (3) your ability to provide the solution the client needs. If you can read the situation you can provide the right solution.”
Simple as that. You basically need a skilled team of sales reps to have effective client meetings. In Napp we believe in empowering those sales reps with the right tools to help them focus on the key elements described by Preben Braagaard. If you are curious to know what that means, you can explore how Napp enables sales and reach out to us if you would like a personal demonstration.
We would like to thank sales coach and CEO in Coachers Preben Braagaard for the interview. You can learn more about Coachers and their services here.