Print These 8 Rules for Initial B2B Sales Meetings – They’re That Good
In 2012, SalesStaff scheduled over 5000 B2B sales meetings for our clients and delivered over 7500 leads. We maintain a strong feedback loop with our clients on the status of those meeting and, from that feedback, SalesStaff has been able to detect patterns and best practices around sales calls.
The initial B2B sales call is oh so important. It’s like a first date – and a blind date at that, in most cases. You want to put your best foot forward and make a great first impression… maybe put on your Sunday best. It’s a feeling-out period.
Internalize the following rules for initial sales calls. They are truly empowering.
Knowledge is power. Compile some information. It pays to know some particulars about your prospect, their products, their competitive position, and their customer base.
In our B2B appointment setting process, we work to gather as much information as possible. In SalesStaff’s Discovery Phase, we identify which data points are actionable to your sales team. Our team also gathers information on prospects’ distinctive pains and challenges specific to the client solution. Our clients receive a full report, including all the pertinent logistics of the meetings, detailed call notes, and general information about the company itself to help you prepare.
Your words, your body language, your voice inflection… it all tells a story. Have conviction in your product and it will rub off on your prospects.
Our inside sales reps become the front line for our clients. They become ambassadors for our clients’ products, conveying value and enthusiasm. Go into every SalesStaff appointment with the expectation that the seed has been planted. The prospect is awaiting you and willing to learn more about your solution.
3. Respecting the Prospect’s Time
Quite simply, we’ve found it pays to ask. A strong appointment confirmation prospect will be your best friend when it comes to minimizing no-shows. And when you get to the big dance, you might say, “I know we allotted thirty minutes. I just want to make sure that still works for you." Identifying the customer's time frame helps you direct the flow of the meeting.
SalesStaff will send a meeting invite for the desired timeframe. We can even confirm a day or two in advance that the time and date are still good. Confirming the timeframe at the top of the meeting is a good practice but be flexible. We have seen several thirty minute appointments turn into hour conversations once the prospect is properly engaged.
State the objective of the meeting early and clearly. You might try something like this:
Thanks again for sharing some time. The purpose of this meeting is to learn more about some of your needs and challenges. Perhaps we can determine if there might be a fit for working together. We did some homework but we’d like to hear more about [their business, their processes, etc.].
SalesStaff appointments are qualified according to our clients’ qualification criteria. We advise our clients to allow 5-10 minutes in the beginning for additional discovery so the prospect can expound on information gathered in the initial call. Engage the prospect immediately.
The old sales adage that you should listen 2/3 of the time holds some water. For certain, you can talk yourself out of a sale… you can’t listen yourself out of a sale. Have prospects expound on their answers to gain a clearer understanding of the situation.
Often, SalesStaff appointments are positioned as a discovery call. The expectation is that, at the very least, our client will get the necessary information needed to build a strong business case for their solution. We advise that the end game of every sales meeting should be to schedule some follow up sales activity.
The sales appointment should already be qualified against the primary criteria before you even step into the meeting. From there, you need to uncover more about how the prospect buys –their timeframe, budget, authority. Most importantly, find out whether you can provide a value-add to the prospect.
SalesStaff provides a variety of campaigns, some of which qualify prospects for budget, authority, need, and timeframe (BANT). We also provide appointment setting campaigns aimed at identifying prospects in the research or discovery phase. We’ve found that often a prospect may not even know that they have needs/inefficiencies until they are shown a better mousetrap. Our objective is to put our clients in front of prospects that have a pain or challenge that you can solve – prospects that can buy or influence the purchase of your solution.
7. Offering a Solution
You listened well and hopefully you were using the information to tweak your presentation to include some of the information you’ve learned about the customer. The most powerful value statements draw on things your prospect revealed about their situation: "You mentioned that… We've made it easy for you by…"
SalesStaff works to position our clients’ offerings as a solution to some challenge. We advise our clients to always schedule some next steps based on the needs-gathering they’ve done in that initial appointment. This will allow for rapport and trust while being mindful of the prospects time. A presentation or demo can then be personalized to fit the needs and challenges of this particular prospect and include any other applicable parties from both sides.
8. Concluding with Next Steps
"What happens next?"
As we alluded to earlier, the goal of the first sales meeting should always be to schedule a second sales activity – a second appointment, demo, face-to-face presentation, a 3-6 months follow-up) Get whatever activity you choose onto the calendar. Never leave it up to the prospect to get in touch with you.