Sales is not the only discipline that experience some of the issues addressed in this article. They are good at setting meetings and appointments with the right people and getting them excited. But something goes awry and has been called the First Meeting Syndrome. This is characterized by the realization that the first meeting appeared successful and the prospects or audience was engaged. But, reality sets in when there is little or no follow-up by the audience and as time passes, the deal goes cold.
This is naturally a cause for concern as to what is being done or where have you gone wrong? My recommendation is to cultivate and seek advice from trusted mentors who are successful at closing deals and are willing to share their techniques.
From a mountain of research, here are a few techniques that will be helpful:
Let the prospect or audience do most of the talking.
Naturally, you are going to prepare for the meeting or presentation by researching them and developing a potential range of suggestions. And probably talk too much.
The first meetings should be all about the audience or prospect. Spend most of your time asking about their strategy, objectives and how they are measured. Then describe what you, your product or organization offer and try to formulate a few ideas as to how you could work together. This gives you the best chance to get an important person on board with your proposal.
It’s all about the person.
It is not uncommon that we sometimes “over present.” After watching too much Shark Tank, we feel compelled to unleash a “115 mm Howitzer” of a presentation to our prospect or audience. You are always presenting to big brands like Microsoft or Toyota. In reality, you never present to a company. You do however present to one or two people who happen to work for that company. You must sell or persuade them.
Most people want to look good and avoid looking bad. They are wary of doing a deal if they aren’t sure of the ability to deliver. It may be additionally convincing that you will personally supervise or manage the project to successful completion. Share a success story that highlights your innovation, positive media coverage, and how good it made the client look in the process.
Deal with the most senior person.
If possible deal with the most senior executives you can. They are generally more prepared to take a risk than lower positioned subordinates who worry about making mistakes.
You can waste a lot of time presenting to juniors who don’t have the clout or the nerve to make a deal. In my experience, proposals have been passed down to associates who are lower positioned in the organization. That’s almost always a bad sign and when deals start to falter. To only way to get back on track is to meet with senior executive(s) with whom you had an agreement and “light a fire under them.”
Leave a written presentation.
I typically produce important presentations using PowerPoint on a laptop. I don’t immediately walk into the meeting and start a slide show. But, I am prepared if the situation or need arises. There are a couple of reasons for this and a little used technique. I usually make two versions of the PowerPoint presentation, the standard deck and one with text of my presentation in the notes section. Depending on the audience, I make a judgment as to which one I will print and bind for the client.
Initially, this may seem to be a waste of paper, but I works. It is easier to visualize a product or process when there’s a tangible booklet to flip though. After the presentation meetings, people would pass the presentation around to colleagues for feedback. And, many people may be more comfortable with paper presentations. In any case, it works to leave some printed materials for later review.
I used to send follow-up emails until I found out that least urgent emails went to trash. Now, I call as often as necessary and you should too.
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