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How to Run a Sales Meeting: An Insider’s Guide to Closing More Leads

Last updated: December 23rd, 2019

As an agency or freelancer, you need to acquire new clients. Everything else, including revenue, reputation, and ultimately your success, stems from this. In fact, without clients, you don’t have a business at all.

Because of this, most agencies and freelancers rate finding new clients and closing a sale as their number one priority. To put it bluntly, everything else is either a means to get new clients or a benefit of getting new clients.

Today, we’ll be looking at how to score high ticket clients in a sales meeting. We’ll begin by looking at the different kinds of leads you’ll encounter, and how you should nurture them. Then we’ll discuss how to prepare for a sales meeting, and ultimately how to land the contract.

Understanding your Clients

With any sales or marketing, your priority is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. A little bit of empathy goes a long way in informing the rest of your strategy. If this seems obvious, then good for you. Many people can’t seem to get their heads around this.

The first step to improving your chances of closing a sale is understanding your potential client’s needs and altering your approach from there. Of course, their needs can be their exact business requirements and how you’ll help them, but there’s more to it than that.

You should also understand their needs in terms of working habits and thinking processes.

There are some very general ways you can do this. For example, you can categorize leads into categories. In marketing circles, you call these categories archetypes.  You could use the following four archetypes.

  1. Artists,
  2. Empathisers,
  3. Lawyers,
  4. Skeptics

Maybe you think it’s cynical to break people up so simplistically. That misses the point. The idea is to help you define your approach by considering the characteristics and behaviors of the person you will be meeting.

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of these archetypes.

1. Artists

Artists are all the creative types out there. They’re the innovators. Because of this, they’re more worried about the big picture than nitty-gritty details. Unfortunately, this often makes them disorganized.

To connect with an artist, your best bet is to adopt a more informal approach. Artists respond best when you appeal to their creative side, especially if you try and connect with them on a personal level.

2. Empathizers

Empathizers can be some of the most pleasant clients. That is, they tend to be easy to get along with, as they have a positive and open-minded outlook. Landing these clients requires a strong personal touch, including building a relationship.

Empathizers also want to work with other empathizers. Because of this, you’ll need to tailor your approach to the exact individual and focus on what matters to them.

3. Lawyers

Lawyers, as you might expect, tend to be serious and detail orientated. They’re generally able to see through gimmicks and aren’t worried about making friends. Your best bet is a straight forward and precise approach.

In a sales meeting with a lawyer, it helps to be rational and detail orientated. You should lay out a detailed case of why you are the best person to offer the service and back it up with concrete evidence.

4. Skeptics

Skeptics take the motto ‘question everything’ to heart, so be prepared to answer a lot of questions. They’re generally the hardest clients to land, as they won’t buy your services unless you can prove you are the best option for them.

To do this, you need to appeal to their sense of logic. Give a detailed account of how your work will benefit them and outline the ROI. You should also offer a counter-factual. That is, what will happen if they don’t sign up for your services.

These are the four most common personalities, but you may also want to create buyer personas of your own.

How to Build Trust with Clients

So now you have a fair idea of how to tailor your approach to different kinds of clients. No matter what archetype you’re pitching to, the process for closing a sale looks something like this:

  1. Contact the lead to arrange a meeting
  2. Meet the person to discuss the project and their needs
  3. They offer you a contract

Of course, the reality is generally messier and more protracted. You usually have to develop a relationship with a potential client over time.

Not many people are going to walk in off the street and give you a 6-figure contract.

That’s not how business development works in the real world. Instead, the goal is that when a prospective client has a business need, you’re the person they call. An extension of this is that when someone in a client’s network has a need, you’re the one they’ll recommend.

To develop a relationship, you need to become a master of strategic networking. This is all about building relationships with people who could be good for your business. These might be potential clients, other professionals in your niche, or people who can help you achieve your goals.

You have different options for how to go about strategic networking, depending on your specific goals. For instance, if you want to generate leads, you should opt for personal outreach via LinkedIn or sending professional emails through cold outreach.

This approach can be preferable to cold calling, as it eliminates the need to get around gatekeepers.

An excellent way to create a positive impression before a meeting is to optimize your online marketing collateral. After all, people usually Google a person’s name before a meeting.

Similarly, building trust mostly comes down to repeated contact. That doesn’t mean you should phone up leads daily. Rather, you should use several channels, including social media and offline networking, to develop your relationship.

How to Close More Sales

Once you’ve built trust and warmed up your lead, it’s time to convert them into a client. This might happen organically with them reaching out to you, or you might create this opportunity yourself.

Whichever way it happens, you need to prep for a sales meeting.

Preparing for a Sales Meeting

You’ve heard the adage fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This applies to sales meetings, just as much as any other context. The more information you have about both the company and the individual, before the meeting, the better.

The first thing I do before a sales meeting is to get the lead to fill in a short survey. The survey is an opportunity to identify their needs, expectations, and budget. 

Your survey should be around ten questions. Your questions should help you identify their goals, their budget for the project, and whether or not they’ve previously worked used a service like yours. Depending on your niche, you may ask for some extra details. For instance, SEO agencies typically request access to Google Analytics and Search Console to get an idea of the lead’s current situation.

Similarly, an auditor or management consultant may ask to see the client’s books ahead of a meeting.

On top of helping you to prepare for your meeting, this process has a range of other benefits. For one thing, it projects an image of competence and seriousness to the potential client. This also helps to engage the client in the process.

This is important, as making the lead feel like the project is already underway to reduces the mental leap needed to convert them into a client.

I recommend using survey tools like SurveyAnyPlace to create an interactive questionnaire. These digital surveys serve as a portable solution to send over to potential leads without much hassle. 

Secondly, research the person and company you will be meeting.

These days, you can undertake lead research online in under an hour. At a basic level, you should be checking out their website, LinkedIn, and any public details you can find on your local business registry. The research phase is an excellent time to identify and potentially reach out to mutual connections. 

How to Conduct a Sales Meeting

One common mistake that newbie sales professionals make is lecturing their leads. They’ve seen the movies with the slick salesman standing in front of a flip-chart, pitching to the board.

The reality is that sales meetings are much more open and transactional processes. If a sales meeting is going well, the lead should be doing at least half of the talking.

When a person is talking, you should listen.

It can also be a good idea to bring visual props to make your points. For instance, cost-value graphs that show the value of your service can succinctly make the same point that you might struggle to put across convincingly.

Similarly, the focus of your pitch should be the benefits a lead can expect, rather than the process you’ll go through to achieve these.

One way to do this is to keep an eye on your transitivity patterns. That is, the way your sentences are structured to emphasize certain information and actors. Take a look at these two sentences:

  1. We’ll get you an extra $10,000 per month in revenue, at the cost of $2,000.
  2. Our services cost $2,000 per month. For that, we’ll help to improve your performance.

The first sentence is more attractive since it leads with the benefit and then puts the costs in the context of overall gains.

How to Close a Sale

The ending of a sales meeting is the crucial phase. This is the time to set expectations for what happens next. At a minimum, you should come out of a meeting with an appointment for your next chat or meeting.

It’s a good practice to agree to draw up a business proposal or quote, as well. Schedule a further meeting or call to walk the potential client through your offer. This gives you a chance to address concerns and clear up misunderstandings – both things will help you secure the contract.

How to Get More Clients with Sales Meetings

At this point, you should have a clear idea of how sales meetings can be used to grow your agency or freelancing business by gaining more clients. This begins with the recognition that no two clients are alike. Then you can gain an understanding of your leads, and start to build trust with them.

The next step is to start preparing for your sales meeting, including engaging the lead in the process. Finally, you can close a sale and turn the lead into a paying client with a conversational sales meeting, which ends with a clear set of expectations.

Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He’s spent over a decade in online marketing. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of content marketing across a range of websites.

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