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Effective meeting preparation: the secret to a highly converting sales process

Published on
Jun 28, 2024


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You are in a sales meeting. Your client is at the edge of their seats, taking in every word you say. Your presentation? Flawless. So much so that there are no objections! As you wrap up, there's a standing ovation. The client insists on closing the deal right away with your signature as an autograph. 

Yeah, we can’t relate to it either. 

But wouldn't it be amazing if every meeting you attended was a hit? After all, sales teams spend around 30% of their time meeting clients. 

Think of all the tasks a sales team has to juggle - calling, negotiating, following up, updating the CRM tools, reporting, networking, finding leads, watching competitors, learning about their product, making connections, hitting sales goals, training, and following up. While doing all this, they might miss something small, yet important, and it usually only shows up in client meetings when it's too late to fix it.

The impact of meeting preparation on sales productivity

Meetings – love or hate them – are here to stay, despite AI advancements. People just seem to trust human interaction more.

So how do you create the magic in those initial moments? The trick lies in stepping back and focusing on preparation. Thorough, well-researched planning before the meeting is the real key to success.

When meetings are well-prepared, conversion rates tend to go up. A salesperson who's done their homework can better handle client worries, customize their pitch, and build long-term relationships. Not to mention the significantly reduced anxiety for the salesperson, enabling a more relaxed and confident approach to the meeting.

  1. Understanding customer needs: Proper preparation allows understanding not only the basic details of the potential client's business but also their market position, challenges, and unique needs. This level of understanding enables a salesperson to tailor their pitch, making it more relevant and compelling.

  1. Efficient use of time and shorter sales cycle: Thorough meeting preparation facilitates more structured and focused conversations, leading to more efficient use of both the salesperson's and the client's time. This efficiency can lead to increased sales productivity, quicker decision-making processes, and shorter sales cycles.

  1. Better handling of objections: Preparation involves anticipating potential objections and having ready responses. This readiness can significantly increase the chances of a successful sale as it demonstrates the salesperson's expertise and understanding of the client’s concerns.

  1. Improved customization of solutions: With a good understanding of the client’s needs, a prepared salesperson can more effectively customize their offerings. This customization can be a key differentiator in competitive markets by providing a personalized touch.

  1. Increased loyalty and referral opportunities: Satisfied clients, who feel that their needs have been understood and met, are more likely to refer others, thereby increasing the potential for more sales.

Steps for Effective Meeting Preparation

At its core, meeting preparation involves understanding the client's background, setting goals to achieve during the meeting,  gathering and sharing relevant information like presentations, and anticipating objections, concerns, and questions that the clients might have to ensure that you are ready to tackle those.  

Let’s look at each one step by step:

1. Define the meeting's objective

  • Clarify purpose: Begin by defining the purpose of the meeting. What do you intend to achieve? This could range from introducing a new product to addressing specific client concerns.
  • Set achievable sales goals: Establish clear, achievable goals for the meeting. For instance, your goal might be to get a second meeting, a trial of your product, or an agreement in principle.
  • Tools:  Mind mapping software like MindMeister and Trello for clarifying purposes and setting goals.
 MindMeister is a collaborative online mind mapping tool perfect for visual meeting preparation and idea organization.

2. Conduct thorough client research

  • Gather information: Research the client’s business, industry, competitors, and market trends. Utilize resources like the company website, LinkedIn profiles, industry reports, and news articles.
  • Understand pain points: Identify specific challenges or needs the client might be facing. This understanding will help you tailor your presentation to address these issues directly.
  • Tools: Platforms like Crunchbase, Oliv (automated client research), Linkedin can be used.

Crunchbase is a platform for business information used for meeting preparation and competitive analysis.

3. Prepare your materials

  • Customize presentations: Tailor your presentation materials to resonate with the client’s needs and interests. Avoid generic pitches.
  • Prepare documents: Ensure all necessary documents, such as brochures, case studies, contracts, or technical sheets, are updated and ready.
  • Tools: Document management tools like Google Drive, securely send documents with Docsend, for effective sales meeting preparation, use Canva to design and prepare your presentation.
DocSend is a secure document sharing and tracking platform that enhances meeting preparation

4. Anticipate questions and concerns

  • List potential questions: Thinking from the client's point of view for handling objections is the key to addressing any client concerns during a sales meeting. 
  • Prepare responses: Develop well-thought-out responses and solutions to these potential questions. This meeting preparation shows your commitment and understanding of the client's needs.
  • Tools: Forums specific to your client's industry, like Stack Exchange or regular Q&A websites like Quora for insight into common concerns.

Stack Exchange is a network of Q&A websites where users can find and exchange information on topics that will aid meeting preparation.

5. Plan the meeting agenda

  • Structure the meeting: Outline a clear agenda for the meeting. Include time for introductions, presentations, discussion, Q&A, and next steps.
  • Share in advance: If appropriate, share the agenda with the client beforehand. This sets expectations and shows organization.
  • Tools: Meeting agenda tools like MeetingBooster or Doodle to structure and share your meeting plan.

MeetingBooster is a tool designed to streamline meeting preparation and enhance collaboration efficiency.

6. Rehearse your pitch

  • Practice delivery: Rehearse your presentation to ensure a smooth delivery. Focus on clarity, pacing, and engaging storytelling.
  • Seek feedback: If possible, practice before a colleague and ask for constructive feedback.
  • Tools: Video recording tools like Loom to practice and review your pitch and feedback tools like Veedback may be used.‍

 Veedback is a meeting preparation tool that streamlines feedback collection and agenda setting.

7. Logistical preparations

  • Confirm details: Double-check the time, date, and location of the meeting. If it’s a virtual meeting, test your technology in advance.
  • Plan for contingencies: Have backup plans for potential technical issues or other unforeseen challenges.
  • Tools: Calendar apps like Google Calendar to confirm meeting details. Tech-check tools like Zoom’s test feature for virtual meeting preparations.
The Zoom tool is a virtual conferencing platform that facilitates meeting preparation and collaboration online.

8. Set up a follow-up plan

  • Next steps: Plan how you will perform after-sales follow-up after the meeting. This might include sending additional information, arranging a next meeting, or a timeline for a proposal.
  • Keep notes: Prepare to take meeting notes, which will be crucial for your follow-up.
  • Tools: CRM systems like Salesforce or HubSpot to track follow-up actions.

 HubSpot is a CRM platform that streamlines meeting preparation and customer engagement.

9. Mental preparation

  • Stay positive: Maintain a positive and confident mindset. Your attitude can significantly influence the meeting’s outcome.
  • Relax and focus: Take time to relax and focus before the meeting. A clear mind will help you stay attentive and responsive.
  • Tools: Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm for relaxation and focus.

Calm is a tool that streamlines meeting preparation with guided mindfulness techniques to enhance focus and clarity.

10. Early arrival and setup

  • Be punctual: Arrive early at the meeting location. This allows you time to set up and address any last-minute issues.
  • Check equipment: Ensure all your equipment (laptop, projector, etc.) is working correctly.
  • Tools: Tech support apps like TeamViewer for remote troubleshooting of presentation equipment.

TeamViewer is a remote support tool that facilitates meeting preparation by allowing participants to share screens and collaborate in real-time.

Effective meeting preparation involves tailoring your approach to each client, setting strategic objectives, and preparing for various meeting scenarios. Anticipating questions and objections, and preparing convincing responses, can make a significant difference in the meeting's outcome.‍ Here is a meeting preparation checklist that has helped us keep track of our meeting preparation criteria and improve overall sales meetings.

Effective meeting preparation Do’s and Don'ts

Effective meeting preparation Do's Effective meeting preparation Don'ts
1. Clearly define meeting objectives. 1. Overlook setting specific goals.
2. Conduct in-depth client research. 2. Skip understanding the client’s background.
3. Tailor your presentation. 3. Use generic presentations.
4. Anticipate and prepare for objections. 4. Ignore potential questions or concerns.
5. Rehearse your pitch thoroughly. 5. Underestimate the need for rehearsal.

Tools and Techniques: Using Oliv for Efficient Meeting Preparation

Each step we discussed above for meeting preparation is important and cannot be overlooked. Doing each of these manually is also not an easy task to accomplish. For example, to research a client before we meet with them, we would need to find out at least:

  1. What is the size of their company?
  2. What are their pain points?
  3. How do they influence the decision-making process?
  4. How do their internal processes affect the type of objections they might have?
  5. Who are their competitors?
  6. What are the short-term and long-term goals of the client?

And a lot more.

Having a pre-designed template is essential to ensure all necessary information is captured efficiently before the meeting.

This template acts as a guide, prompting you to collect and organize all essential information beforehand for more organized, focused, and productive meetings. It should be comprehensive enough to cover various aspects of the meeting, such as the meeting's objectives, key discussion points, background information on attendees, and basic industry information. 

Even if this is your repeat conversation with them, it is not possible to remember all the important points that were discussed, resulting in inefficient conversations.

This is where sales tools come into the picture. 

Today several tools can assist you in meeting preparation. CRM systems help track client information and history while meeting planning software can streamline the scheduling and agenda-setting process. 

1. Oliv

Oliv offers a comprehensive sales toolkit that enhances performance at every stage, encompassing meeting preparation, execution, and concluding activities.

Oliv provides a complete solution for sales to excel in every step, from meeting preparation to the actual meeting and finally wrapping up. ‍

Key features & benefits:

  • Identification of best performing discovery questions: Oliv analyzes past interactions to identify which discovery questions are most effective in engaging potential customers. This helps in understanding customer needs more accurately and tailoring the sales approach.
  • Addressing common customer queries and objections: The tool keeps track of frequently asked questions and objections raised by customers. By analyzing this data, Oliv helps sales teams prepare more effective responses and strategies to address these concerns.
  • Refinement of call scripts: Utilizing the data gathered from various interactions, Oliv refines sales call scripts. This ensures that the communication resonates well with the target audience.
  • Updating competitive battle cards: Oliv assists in maintaining up-to-date competitive battle cards. This feature provides sales teams with current information on competitors, helping them to position their offerings more strategically.
  • Enabling sellers with real-time answers: By providing real-time insights and data-driven answers, Oliv equips sales representatives with the information they need during conversations with potential customers.
  • Comprehensive pre-call research: The tool aids in conducting thorough research before calls. This meeting preparation ensures that sales reps are well-informed about the client's background, needs, and potential pain points. The salesperson can enter the call with confidence and build rapport quickly.
  • Live conversational insights: During calls, Oliv can provide live insights, guiding sellers on the best course of action based on the conversation's flow and the customer's responses.
  • Guidance for smart next best steps: Oliv not only assists during calls but also suggests smart follow-up actions. These are tailored to each interaction, helping to move the customer through the sales funnel effectively.

2. Asana

Asana is a project management tool that streamlines meeting preparation by organizing tasks and deadlines in one place.

While primarily a project management tool, Asana can be used for meeting preparation by organizing tasks, setting deadlines, and tracking progress leading up to the meeting. Known for its user-friendly interface, Asana enables users to plan projects, assign tasks, specify deadlines, and communicate directly within the platform. 

It offers a variety of views, such as lists, boards, and timelines, allowing teams to visualize their progress and deadlines effectively. 

Key features & benefits:

  • User-friendly interface: Asana stands out with its intuitive interface, making it easy for teams to organize, track, and manage their tasks and projects.
  • Task management capabilities: It enables users to assign tasks, set deadlines, and communicate within the platform, enhancing teamwork and efficiency.
  • Visualization tools: The tool offers various views such as lists, boards, and timelines, which are crucial for visualizing project progress and meeting deadlines.

For meeting preparation, Asana offers agenda setting template to clearly define the meeting’s purpose and goals, set expectations for team members, and clarify who’s responsible for what. 

3. streamlines meeting preparation with collaborative agendas, action items, and feedback tools. helps organize productive team meetings and meaningful 1:1s, build collaborative meeting agendas, record decisions, and keep each other accountable.

Key Features & Benefits::

  • Meeting management: excels in facilitating effective team meetings. It allows users to create collaborative agendas, record decisions, and track action items, ensuring productive meetings.
  • Feedback and collaboration: The platform encourages continuous feedback and sales team collaboration, fostering a culture of open communication and growth.
  • Integration with productivity tools: integrates with popular tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, enhancing its utility in diverse work environments.

To help prepare for the meetings, it provides meeting guidelines to integrate meeting best practices in the company, and an AI tool to build agendas to ensure that the meetings are productive and actionable. 

Wrapping Up‍

Integrating sales meeting preparation into your sales strategy

To truly reap the benefits, meeting preparation should be an integral part of your sales strategy. This involves training sales teams to adopt through sales meeting preparation practices and embedding these practices into your sales culture.

It is also important to understand the impact of meeting preparation on the outcomes. You can check metrics on your Oliv dashboard. This can be done through analyzing sales data, gathering client feedback, and continuously refining your preparation strategies based on these insights.

Effective meeting preparation is more than just a good practice; it's a critical component of a successful sales process. By investing time and effort in sales meeting preparation, teams can significantly increase conversion rates and build stronger client relationships.

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