The big meeting is just that, a big opportunity to advance or close a meaningful sales opportunity. Or blow the deal if things don’t go well.

There are a number of reasons the big meeting can end poorly, many are self-inflicted. I’ve witnessed more than one meeting turn sour because of poor planning and preparation.

Here are five things I recommend you nail-down before you hop in the car or get on the phone:

  1. Know who is attending the meeting and why: Talk to the person you’re arranging the meeting with about who they plan to have attend and why. You need to understand the role of everyone on the other side of table — their responsibilities, biases, and role in the decision making process.
  2. Review the role of everyone on you team: Meet well before the meeting with the people you’re bringing to discuss their role. The last thing you want is a member of your own team hijacking your meeting with limited knowledge of the opportunity and unwittingly opening up a sore subject or rubbing salt in an old wound.
  3. Establish a clear picture of what you wish to accomplish in the meeting: There is little worse than a meeting that wanders without a clear purpose until the prospect decides its time to finish and excuses themselves from further discussion. You need to know exactly what you want from the meeting and keep driving in that direction.  Once you get what you want, stop selling and move to the next thing.
  4. Know what you’re willing to give away: Especially if it’s a closing meeting, you need to know how far you can go in the negotiation before you have to walkaway to get more authority to close. There’s little more frustrating than learning a big deal wasn’t closed on the spot, with all the right people in the room, because the person leading the meeting didn’t get prior approval to negotiate and close.
  5. Plan the next step: Assuming you get what you want from the meeting — now what? Once a level of agreement is made, you need to be ready with the next action. Don’t end the meeting with something as weak as “ll get back to you in a few days…” Understand going into the meeting what comes next and how to get started immediately.

Above are five things you can consider before the big meeting to help you stay focused, avoid silly mistakes, and take advantage of momentum in the deal.

What would you add to my list?

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