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Business Oracle

Business Meetings

Nick Devine, founder of The Print Coach, shares his top tips for engaging with customers during a business meeting, and how to get the most out of it for both of you

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Sales is a process and there are six steps you could follow to get the most out of your meeting

Six steps for an effective meeting

One of the most frustrating problems in the world of business is unrewarded expertise. Having a great product or service does not equate to having a fantastic business. You have to master the art of getting enough clients to give you enough money for your products and services.  That is the only way to get rewarded for your expertise.

The fact that you have incredible production capabilities is not good enough. You need to marry great technical expertise with great sales expertise. 

Sales is a process. It follows a predictable set of proven steps which anyone can learn.  There is a process for getting meetings with decision-makers in your ideal clients.  And there is a process for preparing and conducting that meeting. 

In this article, I will walk you through the six steps you need to follow if you want great customer meetings.

Follow these steps in every meeting and you will enjoy a lot more success and avoid a great many money failures. 

In one study, Forrester research revealed that only 20 percent of prospects accept a follow-up meeting with a salesperson.  That’s an 80 percent failure rate. 

Forrester research revealed that only 20 percent of prospects accept a follow-up meeting with a salesperson.  That’s an 80 percent failure rate

What would you do if one of your production workflows produced an 80 percent failure rate? I’m guessing you would take drastic action. 

The process I developed for running effective customer meetings is called the OUTCOME BASED SELLING method.  Let’s walk through each of the six steps. 

1. What is my outcome – what specifically do I want out of this process?

You will want to begin your meeting with the end in mind.  When you are walking into your meeting, you need to be crystal clear about how you will define success when you walk out of that meeting.

EXAMPLE:  I want to book a second brainstorming meeting where we focus on new ideas the customer can use to boost the results they get from their customer loyalty program.

2. What does the other person want? If I don’t know, what is she/he is likely to want?

This is your opportunity to get inside the head of your client or prospect.  Based on your research or previous experience with this client, what’s your best guess surrounding their outcomes for the meeting? Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are looking for a cheap quote. Think instead about the business outcome they might be trying to achieve 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are looking for a cheap quote. Think instead about the business outcome they might be trying to achieve

EXAMPLE: They want to optimise the lifetime value of the customers in their loyalty program.

3. What are the top five questions I need to ask to bring value to the prospect and move the opportunity forward?

This is your opportunity to begin using your PX12 sales questions.  Have at least five great sales questions prepared in advance.

EXAMPLE: What do your customers most value about your loyalty program? What does success look like over the next 12 months with this program? What level of personalisation are you currently using in your communications?

4. What possible objections or obstacles could come up during this process?

This is your opportunity to anticipate and plan for objections in advance. Many salespeople are unprepared for objections they have heard multiple times in the past.  Don’t make that mistake.  “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” ? J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

EXAMPLE: We are seen as a commodity mailing house or printer. We get pushed for a quote at the end of the meeting.

5. How will I deal with each one, and if possible, use it as a benefit for the other person?

Failing to plan for a foreseeable objection is simply bad selling. Foreseeing and planning for typical objections is better selling. Converting objections into client benefits is the best form of selling. 

You must always think about what the customers needs and wants, as well as what they are trying to achieve

EXAMPLE:  I will use our positioning statement to differentiate what we do and how we do it. Until we know if and how we can help the client, it is not appropriate to quote for commodity communications.

6. How will I communicate the next stage in the process in a way that is good for the client and good for me?

This is a continuation of the mindset you used in the previous step. Keep thinking from the perspective of the client and you’re far more likely to be successful.

EXAMPLE: Based on their situation I will recommend we move forward with our brainstorming/innovation 90 minute workshop. I will emphasise the Level III client benefits.

If you would like a copy of the outcome-based selling template, simply send an email to Nick@theprintcoach.com and put the words ‘outcome-based selling’ in the subject line. In addition to providing you with the blank template that you can reuse as often as you want, you will also get a fully worked example of how to prepare for a successful customer meeting.

Nick Devine is the founder of www.ThePrintCoach.com.  We Help Print & Packaging Companies Win New High Margin Accounts... GUARANTEED RESULTS


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