Meetings, appointments and calls are probably the most critical part of a salesperson’s day – but what separates the ‘average’ salespeople from the most successful when it comes to meetings?

What can we learn by looking at some of the behaviors of the most successful salespeople?

1. Asking questions at the right time

The most successful salespeople are reported to spread their questions evenly throughout the meeting, while average performing reps tend to ask their questions at the beginning of the meeting.

Asking the right questions can be the difference between a successful meeting, and a runaway conversation that blindly goes off-topic. The more questions you can ask your prospect, the more information you will gather to better understand your customer – all useful data which will go towards adjusting your eventual pitch to customers.

Successful salespeople space out questions evenly throughout the meeting because they are responding to what the customer is saying to them, rather than running through a pre-determined list of questions. Whilst it’s a good idea to always go in with some well-thought-out questions, it’s more important to be present and able to respond to customers’ answers – so achieving a fine balance between planned questions and on-the-spot queries is key.

For example, if a customer says they need to make a decision by January next year, here are a few follow up questions you might want to ask:

  • What would be the impact if you didn’t make a decision by January next year?
  • How would delaying the purchase impact on your project’s timescales?
  • What is the compelling event that is dictating the January purchase deadline?
  • If you need to make a decision by January, then what other deadlines do we need to work towards before then – i.e. what date do you need to meet all potential suppliers by?

2. Have a clear agenda

67% of people report that having a clear agenda in place is key to having a successful, productive meeting. Despite this, only 37% of meetings have an agenda in place so there’s still a big gap between the recommended best practice and reality.

The good news is that putting together a meeting agenda is simple – and an easy way to show your customers that you take their time seriously and that you have a good plan in place to make best use of their time when you meet.

3) Ensure meeting actions are clearly set out

There’s nothing worse than having a productive meeting, getting back to the office, then……nothing! A meeting is only as productive as the follow-up – after all, if nothing agreed in the meeting is achieved, then what was the point in the meeting. 43% of execs surveyed said that unclear actions in meetings lead to confusion amongst attendees.

The most successful salespeople see the meeting process as more than just the hour spent sat in the meeting room – they recognise it begins way before that point: when the meeting is first arranged, when the agenda is sent out, when the meeting takes place, and then when follow up notes are sent out after the meeting, and finally, when the meeting’s actions are completed and reported on.

A good meeting can build or damage a client relationship, so plan your meeting well in advance to give you the best opportunity to deliver a considered, professional and successful customer meeting.