It never ceases to amaze me how often a salesperson will come back from meeting a client, with absolutely no information of value.
Yes it is great that they are building a relationship with the client.
Yes it is great that the client always considers our company when looking for services from companies like ours, but it is tough to be prepared for their future needs if we don’t know what they are going to look like.
It is also tough to improve our service if we don’t understand what they like and dislike, from companies like ours.
It is hard to build professional credibility if all that is discussed is personal in nature.
“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.” Zig Ziglar
One excellent way to improve the quality of those meetings, for both you and your client, is by using a meeting agenda.
Here are just 5 reasons why salespeople should use a meeting agenda:
It builds credibility with the client, showing professionalism and an effort at bringing value.
Creating an agenda forces you to think about the meeting and what you and the client should achieve from it.
Everybody is busy, so sharing the agenda with your client and asking if they want to add to it will ensure the client’s needs are met too. This can even be done ahead of time.
The agenda can help keep the meeting on time… again being respectful of the client and showing professional courtesy.
The most important reason is to ensure you capture everything that you need during the meeting, and deliver any necessary messages.
What kind of things might be on an agenda?
Obviously there are many things depending upon your business, the nature of your relationship with this client and the objectives of this particular meeting. Here are some thoughts:
An understanding of how your company is viewed by the client. What they like and don’t like. You could even extend that to include competitors. (If you know what they like and dislike about the top supplier and others then you can adjust accordingly).
An understanding of future needs, upcoming projects, areas of pain.
An understanding of current needs… which should lead to an ask for the business.
An understanding of the organizational structure, such that you can improve your ability to service the client. This might lead into discussion of other contacts you might meet.
An opportunity for the client to add to the agenda.
A discussion about timing of the next meeting, try to get commitment before leaving this meeting to ease the timing of a next meeting.
Deliver any messages that need to be delivered. This could be anything.
An understanding about how well the client knows your company’s offerings, and clarification if necessary.
You might drop off a marketing item… which should be on the agenda. (It is not atypical for the salesperson to leave the meeting and discover that nice company pen still in their pocket!
Confirmation of the time available. If it is a 30 minute meeting then plan accordingly. I like to sit my watch in front of me and make sure the meeting ends on time.
There will likely be some personal discussion to build rapport and trust. This typically would not be on the agenda, but might be a way to get started before launching into the agenda.
Clients may be reticent to meet with you if they think you will waste their time. An agenda will demonstrate your understanding that their time is precious.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” Charles Robert Buxton