Sales Tips: A Meeting Without a Resolution is a Lost Meeting
Never go to a meeting without an agenda, never end a meeting without a resolution.
A recent study gathering over 6,500 professionals in the UK, Germany, and the USA has shown that ineffective meetings cost companies a lot of time and money. Over 384,000 years (that’s over 140m days and 3bn hours) are to be lost in the UK alone this year in poorly organised meetings. The financial cost corresponding to this wasted time was estimated by the same study to be of over $45bn.
Considering these findings, it’s no wonder that everyone should do their best in making every meeting count. One of the vital features of a successful meeting is arriving at a conclusion when it’s time to wrap up. And for this, you have to pull all the stops. From beginning to end, and from A to Z, everything you do in a meeting has to be directed towards the goal of closing. Reaching a decision is not an end-of-the-meeting moment, but rather the peak of all your preparation steps.
Step 1: Priming
In a previous article, we were saying that the key to a closed deal is priming the customer. This is (and probably will forever be) still valid. In a nutshell, priming means influencing the mental response to a stimulus by exposing the mind to another one (generally related in some way). Think of illusionists “guessing” the number that you supposedly chose randomly. The way that trick works is that the magician is tricking your brain into thinking of a specific number, without you even realizing. It was never random, that number was artificially and inconspicuously implanted in your mind.
Priming is a complex, fascinating craft. Those who get to master it can be considered a sort of mentalists. Few get to, though, as it requires dedication and perseverance. Luckily, you don’t need to be a mentalist to prime your customers so that they’re more inclined to close the deal. You can simply spruce up the meeting location both literally (by putting up positive posters, or scattering plants) and metaphorically (smile, offer coffee and refreshments, be positive through and through).
Step 2: Negotiating
Just as the road to closing a deal is continuous and strenuous, so is the negotiation part of a meeting. Even though (in a sales meeting) you’re there to give a presentation about your product and basically convince the client to buy it, you have to be ready to answer aggressive questions, allay concerns, and counter-offer unacceptable proposals. In a word, you must be ready to negotiate. Every time, all the time.
If you didn’t skip the priming stage, this one should come easier. Starting the meeting with a bit of small talk, that will help nurture the relationship by building rapport, is just one of the tips on how to negotiate your way to a better deal. During the session, make sure to talk less and listen to the other participants. Finally, don’t fear silence – use it to your advantage instead. There are great ways of turning a moment of silence into a sales tactic.
Step 3: Closing
You’ve reached the long awaited moment. You’ve set the ground for ending the sales meeting with an arrangement that benefits both parties. It’s time to shine.
3.1. Closing techniques
Getting your clients to sign on the dotted line depends on your client as much as on you. (Maybe more on you.) A great businesswoman, Mary Kay Ash, said: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says 'Make Me Feel Important.' Not only will you succeed in business, you will succeed in life.” Something as simple as that is not a closing technique per se, sure, but it’s a great way of generating them.
There is a great number of closing techniques available that are easy to learn and apply. Whether you choose a soft close or a sharp angle is up to you. We’ve also come across methods moulded after TV characters (the Columbo close), or based on scales (the gauge technique). Whatever the sales tactic, make sure you’re delivering it at the right moment and with great confidence.
3.2. What’s in a meeting resolution
The explicit content of a conclusion is closely connected to the specificity of the sales deal. However, there are some basic bullet points that should be crossed in any deal setting. Simply put, this should be information to cover the 5Ws – who, what, where, when, and why. All of this is already included in the minutes of the meeting, so it shouldn’t be difficult to draft the resolution.
Make sure the meeting resolution includes the participants, a summary of what has been discussed and agreed upon, the preferred channel of communication, a timeline for future steps. Last, but not least, include the promise of a follow up. They’ll be expecting your email and be less inclined to ignore it, you’ll be compelled to write and send it in due time.
3.3. Follow up
You promised to send a follow up email enclosing the meeting resolution and all its subsequent features. In the sales world, breaking that promise means losing the sale. And losing the sale means losing the profit. No need to go further, you get the idea. There’s no getting out of sending that email. And why should there be? All those efforts that were put into the sales meeting are finally paying off. The client is expecting to start working with you. It’s all in the email now.
As a conclusion, for imagery purposes, let’s compare a sales meeting to a vegetable garden. If you’re going to work months and months to keep the soil fertile, plant seeds, water them, pluck out the weeds, and a bunch of other chores required for a bountiful harvest, make sure you’re actually going to collect the produce, not leave it there to wilt and die. Putting in all of that work and then walking away – that’s what a meeting without a resolution is.