The purpose of the I-Model Approach for Earning the Meeting is to initiate communication and ultimately a more diagnostic phone conversation or face to face meeting with the decision maker.
The Problem and Purpose With The Status Quo
Face to Face Meeting Objectives
The I Model Structure for Starting the Meeting
Best Practices For Starting the Meeting
Frequently Asked Questions & Answers:
The most challenging part of my face to face meetings is actually getting started in the conversation. It feels awkward and when the customer jumps in with “What you got?” it tends to throw me off my plan.”
The first few seconds or minutes of an introduction can feel very awkward if you are not comfortable in taking personal leadership in guiding the opening statements and questions. If this is your first meeting and with a new prospect, take the lead by extending your hand with a comfortable but firm grip, a warm smile and eye contact. The introduction should be to the point: I am…I’m with…..: “Hello Frank! It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, I’m Tom Moore with _________. I am a consultant on our Southwest Marketing Team.”
The next words you speak should be as a result of your pre work and the insight you have gained and documented in your Pre Meeting Plan. The purpose is to share early legitimacy and to take control of the early conversation in the form of a question: This is an impressive facility. I know you have been a Plant Manager with Bimbo for 8 years, has all of your work been in this location?
Be prepared with a few opening statements that convey that you are prepared for the meeting and have an understanding of their business. Combine that with some opening questions to begin the process of guiding the conversation. This should allow you to shift comfortably into suggesting an agenda and confirming the time.
Remember to ask as well if they are familiar with Rehrig Pacific as this would be the right time for Tailored positioning as a high level. And just like your I Model for Prospecting, avoid using clichés in your opening like “touch base” or “check in.” You may be able to relate early in the meeting by observing personal or professional object belonging to the customer including diplomas on the wall, or University memorabilia like a football or jersey. “I see you went to Auburn University? Were you raised in Alabama?” There is nothing wrong with casual early relates and it may well relax you and your prospect as you move toward the purpose of the meeting.
My meetings seem to get sidetracked in to a discussion around product and price and then I have trouble getting back to the larger issues or organizational goals and objectives.
We need to ask a few questions here to understand why the prospective customer is defaulting to product and price so quickly:
What are you framing and positioning as your INSIGHT and INSPIRE?
Is it closely aligned with how the individual’s performance is measured? How our prospect’s performance is measured and the pressure they are facing tends to influence how they think and the decisions they make. Rarely, if ever, have they prioritized for the day to revisit their purchase of the specific product you are selling. This emphasis on the individual’s performance metrics must be positioned early and often in the meeting, followed by appropriate High Impact Questions that keep the focus clearly on the larger organizational issues and how they impact the individual.
For example: Tom, in preparing for our time together and working with your other Plant Managers, I know that your organization has two primary corporate objectives for FY17: Profitable sales growth and increased profitability of operations (EBITDA) through cost cutting measures. How do those corporate goals align with what you are tasked with at this facility?”
Are you meeting with the right person?
Could an insight gathering call into another department confirm that the person is actually in the position and that you have the correct person for the type of conversation you want to have? If your meeting contact is limited in their insight and influence with the company, it may very well prove a waste of time and worse yet, stick you at a level that could be difficult to maneuver away from to other higher levels of the organization.
When I am concluding a meeting, what are the key points I should close with to make sure my customer is on board with next steps?
Closing a meeting, not to be confused with closing the sale, is a critical as Starting the Meeting. Just like Starting the Meeting, closing requires that we set the right tone, direction and mutual accountabilities from all parties in attendance.
Our first step as the meeting comes to a conclusion is to summarize what has been accomplished on the meeting. This is where having an agenda in place from the start of the meeting can be a great framework for recapping the conversation. It becomes a checklist of sorts.
At the end of the recap, ask specific confirmation questions including the following: “Is this an accurate summary of our discussion today? Is there anything I have missed or omitted or need to add before we close?” Make sure we have commitment on this summary before moving to the next step which is mutual accountabilities or action items. Historically, the team member walks away from the meeting carrying the weight of most next steps. Make sure this is not the case by asking appropriate investment of time and resources from each player.
Following are some examples of getting our customers involved and committed to furthering the sales process:
- Tour of their facility / Tour of our facility
- Participation in internal meeting
- Paying for samples
- Completion of customer feedback forms
- Commitment to action involving dates/deadlines (committing and staying true to deadline)
- Sharing costs (pilot, samples, prototypes, testing, etc.)
- Traveling for meeting
- Provide invitation to an event
- Prospect/Customer requests time to meet
- Provide LinkedIn endorsement
- Request for consultation
- Provide insight into similar projects/competition
- Provide insight into other team members
- Co-present at an event
- Provide feedback on meeting agenda prior to meeting
- Meeting invitation forwarded to additional colleagues
- Candid feedback around current provider