Prepared-300x186All sales opportunities have a meeting with a prospective buyer where the sale is effectively won or lost. Good planning and preparation before this meeting goes a long way to having a productive interaction and wining the sale.

Here are five things you need to prepare for before you get on the phone or meet face-to-face with a prospective customer:

Establish an understanding of what you both wish to accomplish in the meeting: You and your prospective customer should share a common understanding of what your meeting is about and what you’d both like to accomplish. This gives both of you time to focus thoughts and prepare for the conversation — leading to an effective discussion and shared positive outcome.

Know who is attending the meeting with your prospect and why: Talk to the person you’re arranging the meeting with and ask who plans to attend the meeting and why. Tell them you you’d like to understand everyone’s role so you can be prepared to address any questions or concerns others may raise during the meeting. You need to know who will attend the meeting and understand their responsibilities, potential biases, and role in the decision making process. Know how each person you’re meeting with fits into the sales opportunity.

Review the role of everyone on your team who may be joining you in the meeting: If you’re having others from your team join you in the meeting, meet with them well in advance to discuss their role in the conversation. Be sure they understand the purpose of the meeting and any sensitive topics that may come up in conversation. The last thing you want in a sales meeting is a member of your team hijacking the meeting with limited knowledge of the opportunity or unknowingly bringing up a sore subject.

Plan the next step in the sales opportunity: As the meeting ends or the original purpose for the meeting is accomplished, you need to be ready to move the relationship to the next step. Going into the meeting, you need to understand what action comes next in your sales process and be prepared to get that action underway – leaving the meeting with a clear understanding of what you and your prospective customer needs to do next. Don’t let the meeting end with a vague action to follow-up.

Know what you’re willing and able to concede to close the sale or take the next step: You don’t want momentum in the sales opportunity to wane because you weren’t prepared to negotiate a term or confident you had authority to close the deal. Identify concessions before the meeting that may be able to advance the opportunity on the spot. Think beyond discounts and aggressive pricing — tests, trials, site visits, customer references, and similar offers may be enough to advance or close the opportunity. Think ahead and be prepared to negotiate.

There are five things you need to consider before a big meeting to help you stay focused, avoid silly sales mistakes, and take advantage of momentum in the opportunity.

What would you add to my list?

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