Often when I work with leadership and sales teams on a new client pitch or product launch (or how to be more productive) they ask if there is a secret to a successful meetings. Yep! Set an agenda for a fabulously productive meeting!
So often people run the presentation with our ‘spiel’ and don’t take time and stop and find out what others in the meeting what to know or hear. Here are ten strategies to apply and ensure your sales pitch, or meetings is more effective.
Before the meeting
1. Phone ahead – contact your potential client and confirm meeting time, location, power options and number in attendance. This allows you to have sufficient copies of material if required.
2. Find out who are the decision makers– as part of your confirmation phone call, find out names and titles of people. This assists preparation.
During the Meeting
3. Write an agenda – before you open your laptop or launch into your presentation, take a few minutes to write up an agenda everyone can see or confirm the printed agenda.
4. Use a Whiteboard or blank piece of 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.
5. 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 colors if you have them. This allows you to quickly identify what is important to each person.
6. Check the timing of the meeting – confirm with the attendees “Do we have until 1.00 PM together today?” This allows everyone 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 conversation.
7. Identify global (strategic) and local (specific) agenda items –Look for the distinction between the two types of agenda items and make note of whom they belong to. This helps you address throughout the meeting.
8. 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 however feelings affect decision-making.
9. 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.
10. Check for hidden agendas – in most meetings there is also a hidden agenda, even though we never call it that out loud! 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 seems like a long process however you need to invest time to save time with valuable meetings.
Setting agendas for a meeting shows your 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.