There aren’t too many things more important in sales than gaining first meetings with your dream clients. Nothing happens until you can meet and explore change. This post is unlike my usual Sunday offering. Instead of my usual focus on personal leadership, I want to give you a major strategy from one of my methodologies, something that found its way into The Lost Art of Closing and Eat Their Lunch.
The content is in my proprietary format. What I hope I can ask for in return is that you use this strategy to go and help other people recover their businesses and that you share with me your successes.
How to Get a First Meeting
Critical Outcome: Gaining a Meeting with Your Dream Client
The first step in winning deals is creating an opportunity for and with your dream client. That makes a “first meeting” the critical outcome necessary to explore the change you believe will benefit your prospective client’s results. There result is an appointment on both you and your contact’s calendar.
Key Strategy: Trading Value
The primary reason so many contacts refuse a meeting is because the salesperson asking for the meeting doesn’t trade enough value for their contact’s time. The fundamental strategy for acquiring an appointment with a prospective client is providing them with a strong value proposition as to how they are going to benefit from meeting with you—even if they never do business with you.
Key Tactic: Executive Briefing
The key tactic is to offer your contacts an executive briefing based on the trends and factors you believe will either harm their business or provide an opportunity to improve their results. The idea of a briefing suggests that you know something that would be useful to your contact and their business in the next eighteen to twenty-four months.
Rationale: Compelling Change
This tactic prevents you from talking about your company and solutions and allows you to share what will—or should—compel them to change in the future. Instead of starting a conversation by pitching your company, you establish your credibility as someone with the knowledge and experience to provide sound advice about what they should do now to produce better results. Your early meetings need to provide a compelling reason to change.
This approach also establishes you as a peer, as someone your contacts could imagine working with because of their insights and experience.
Necessary Actions: Phone Call to Request a Meeting
Executing this strategy means first building the insights you need to be able to provide a conversation about your client’s industry, their vertical, their clients or customers, and the trends and factors that will require them to change over time. With your insights in place, the necessary action is to call the contact to ask them for a meeting to share your executive briefing.
Common Obstacle: Fear of Sharing Your Insights
One of the reasons salespeople struggle with this strategy is that they don’t believe they have the right to be consultative. When this is true, it is a lack of confidence that prevents salespeople from executing this strategy. They fear their contact will challenge their view of the factors, trends, the contact’s business, and their theory as to why the client should change.
Common Obstacle: Avoiding Using the Telephone
You weaken this approach when you try to accomplish this outcome over email. The medium doesn’t allow a conversation but enables your contact to reject the request using that same medium. Even more critical, it reeks of fear, eliminating the primary rationale of establishing yourself as a peer, someone worth their time.
Common Mistake: Sending the Insight Deck by Email
Sending your insights through email eliminates the need to agree to a meeting. The insights allow for a constructive conversation, and it is a mistake to believe that the ideas are going to create enough value for your contact to call and invite you to come and meet with them.
Pro Tip: Your Existing Insights
An effective strategy for improving your insights is to meet with a group of your peers and make an exhaustive list of all of the things you believe your prospective clients need to change to produce better results. Make a list of what you would have to teach them for them to see their business the same way you do.
While it’s essential to do your research, your experience is equally—or even more—valuable to this approach.
Pro Tip: Risk Reversals
One of the ways you make it easier for your contact to agree to a meeting is by de-risking the meeting. One of the ways you do that is by promising value far greater than the time you are requesting. Another way is by promising your contact that they will gain from the meeting even if there is no next step for you, even though it is more likely that there will be a second meeting because of your approach.
Sample Language: Asking for a Meeting
“Good morning. This is Anthony Iannarino with XYZ Widgets. I am calling you today to ask you for a twenty-minute meeting where I can share with you an executive briefing about four trends that will have the most significant impact on manufacturers in the next eighteen to twenty-four months.
I’ll also provide you with the questions we are asking and answering with our clients so that you can share them with your management team. Even if there is no next step, you’ll know what you might start exploring, and you’ll know what you might need your team to start putting in place.”
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Filed under: Sales