Often when working with sales teams on a new client pitch or product launch they ask if there is a secret to a successful pitch or meeting. Yes – set an agenda.
Too often we run into the presentation with our ‘spiel’ and we don’t take time and stop and find out what others in the meeting what to know or hear. Listed below are strategies you can apply to ensure your sales pitch, or any meetings you have, is more effective.
Before the meeting
Contact your potential new client and confirm the meeting time, location, power options i.e. power points and the number of people attending. This allows you to have sufficient copies of material if required.
Find out who the decision makers are
As part of your confirmation phone call, find out the names and titles of all people attending the meeting. This will assist you prepare and may give an indication of who the decision maker is.
During the Meeting
Write up an agenda
Before you open your laptop or launch into your presentation, take a few minutes to write up an agenda everyone can see.
Use a Whiteboard, iPad or blank paper to capture agenda items
Ask everyone at the meeting “What is on your agenda for our meeting today?” Some people may be surprised you asked the question so take time to allow people to think about their response.
Use different colour pens for each person’s agenda item
If you have a white board or flipchart, use different colours for each person. If you are using a piece of paper use colours if you have them. This allows you to quickly identify what is important to each person.
Check the timing of the meeting
Confirm with the attendees “Do we have until 1.00 PM together today?” This will allow all participants to agree or provide you with information if they have to leave earlier to attend to another matter. This can be critical when pitching a new product or ideas, as you want to ensure the decision makers are available for the important components of your discussion.
Identify global (strategic) and local (specific) agenda items
When reviewing the agenda. Look for the distinction between the two types of agenda items and make note of who they belong to. This will help you address them throughout the meeting.
Ask how everyone “feels” about the meeting
It is important to get a sense for how people are feeling about the meeting. This can include the investment in time they are making, anticipation of what you have to offer, concerns about the product or company. In business we don’t always take time to acknowledge feelings that enter a meeting but feelings affect our decision-making.
Keep asking for agenda items
You may need to continue asking, “Is there anything else?” If everyone says no, you may need to ask again “if there was something else, what would it be?” This allows everyone time to declare every agenda on their mind.
Check for hidden agendas
In most meetings there is also a hidden agenda. It is simple to find out what this is – just ask the question – “What other agendas are there for this meeting?” Alternatively you might state “There always seems to be another agenda with most meetings I attend, is there another agenda today?” It is important to find out if there are other drivers, decision-making criteria or other concerns before you begin the meeting.
This may seem like a long process but it is such a valuable one. Setting agendas for a meeting shows your potential (or existing) client you value their time, you want to cover information or content that is relevant to them, you haven’t come in to just “sell” your services or product. When you invest in setting agenda you can speed up the meeting by addressing each item, focus your presentation on the aspects most important to your potential client, demonstrate respect for their investment in time and their concerns or feelings about the meeting.
If you hold regular team meetings it is also valuable to have a specific agenda and allow an opportunity at the beginning of the meeting to add additional items, assess people’s feelings and uncover hidden agendas for that meeting.
Try setting an agenda for your next meeting and share your ideas with us here on our blog.