Updated: Oct 21, 2019
"Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail"
This quote has probably been the most consistent mantra of my career. And thinking it hasn't let me down. Even if situation has not gone my way, it's not for lack of preparation. I never quite understood why colleagues of mine would choose to just wing a presentation or client meeting. Would you try to run a triathlon with training or go into a job interview without looking into the company and what they do? Probably not. It is the same concept when it comes to a business meeting. No matter how many times you've made that presentation or talked about that product, every client is different and chances are you haven't given that presentation dozens of times to that specific client. If you have, reach out to me. This I want to hear.
That said, preparation can be daunting. You don't know where to start or how to go about organizing your thoughts. I've outlined five concepts that I include in every prep session I conduct.
1. Research, Research, Research
Learn all you can about your the prospective client: who is their audience, what products do they sell, what's the competitive landscape. Understanding their unique position and challenges are crucial to bringing the right solutions to the table for that particular individual or business. The more you conduct this process the simpler it becomes as you can generate a list of robust discovery questions to answer every time. If you take the time in the beginning to implement a research system, you won't always have to start from scratch. Looking for a place to start? Check out this basic questionnaire and customize your direction from there.
Colleagues are some of your best resources. Chances are they've been in a similar situation or met with a similar type of client. You should learn what has worked well for that type of business and what hasn't. You can get an idea of what questions are typically asked by that type of client. Product teams are also a great resource as they are experts in their respective products - leverage them for highly detailed, in the weeds meetings. You have resources all around you, use them! When you bring the right people, you look good. Don't pass that up.
3. Answer the Question.
What questions do you have about your product or services you are offering in this meeting? If you have the question, the client is likely to have it as well, especially if you've done your research and are bringing a relevant solution to the table. Get your questions answered so you know how to answer them yourself! Or bring a colleague, your boss, a product specialist. Again, bring the right people and make yourself look good.
Ever been in a situation, personal or professional, where you say something out loud and it didn't quite come out as you had intended? Yeah, we all have. Practice, practice, practice. The more comfortable you get with what you are communicating, the more authentic and effective it is going to be. Successful sales teams prioritize role playing and pitch practices. You should too.
5. The Power Pose
This last one is something that I think about throughout the entire process, but especially right before I walk into a meeting. It is something called a Power Pose and was introduced to me through a Ted Talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Her talk argues that using a power pose, such as standing in a posture of confidence (think Wonder Woman), can boost our confidence and improve our chances for success. She goes into the study that was conducted and how they came to this conclusion. Take a listen and give it a go - decide for yourself.
These concepts have been included in my preparation method for years. I challenge you to try them out and see how they work for you. Let us know in the comments which ones you can't live without.
The goal: command the room with your confidence and never feel unprepared again.
About the Author
Emily Gorrie is a sales and business strategist with a background in corporate sales. She works with businesses who are looking for strategic direction to scale their business. If you’re interested in learning more or working with Emily, check out her website EmVP Consulting.