|Week before meeting|
|Day before meeting|
|1 to 2 hours in advance|
|10 minutes before meeting|
Let’s face it, we’ve all had less-than-effective sales meetings - especially virtual meetings. Maybe the technology that never failed you picked your most important meeting to do just that. Or you may have run across out of date or missing information during a presentation. Or you did everything right to prepare for your meeting only to be stood up by a key stakeholder. Not every meeting will run smoothly, but you can take specific steps to ensure the majority of them do.
Take note of these online sales meeting best practices to make sure you’re running efficient meetings that leave prospects impressed.
Week before meeting #
Send calendar invitation including info to sign in to meeting
It goes without saying that if the attendees don’t know how to meet you, then they won’t show up. But you’d be surprised how often meeting owners forget to send an invitation to stakeholders in a timely manner. Sending an invitation as soon as the attendees have agreed upon a date and time encourages attendees to respond to the invitation right away or at the very least not immediately forget about it. When you wait a day or two, the odds of the attendee losing your invite in an overflowing inbox or overbooking the time slot become much higher. Send that invitation while the meeting and subject material is still fresh in their minds.
Email meeting agenda and another copy of sign-in info to participants
No one enjoys attending an agenda-less meeting. Without an agenda, there is no structure and inevitably no end goal to the meeting. In fact, 34% of Americans believe unorganized meetings are the biggest threat to their company.
Do yourself a favor and create an agenda for your meeting one week in advance and email it out to your attendees. Not only will this display your professionalism, but it can encourage the prospect to believe you when you say, “Our team is organized.” Furthermore, it allows the prospect to prepare in advance for your conversation or involve the right stakeholders should there be any decision making that needs to be done. When you email the agenda, it doesn’t hurt to attach another copy of the online meeting sign-in information as well. Email inboxes have a habit of hiding important emails!
Day before meeting #
Confirm meeting appointment
Nearly two thirds of American professionals reported losing time from canceled meetings in 2020, which is to say that schedules change. Your sales meeting might be the most important event of your week, but could be much lower on your busy sales prospect or customer’s priority list. Send out a quick email to the main attendees of your meeting and make sure that the time and date is still a good time to connect with them. This can save you disappointment and wasted time waiting on one end of a video conference call staring at a black screen.
Save list(s) of products to present based on customer's past purchase preferences, product availability, regional best sellers, etc.
Famous salesman Zig Ziglar once said, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation”. He was right. Using up-to-date sales data -- the customer’s past purchases, product availability, regional best sellers, etc. -- to prepare your pitch can be the difference between a closed win and a lost opportunity. Your sales tool should allow you to research which products will best fit the needs of your prospect and save those products in an easily accessible list, sorted in a presentation sequence. If you’re presenting products to a prospect, save a selection that fits industry trends and sells best in the prospect’s target market. If you’re presenting to an existing customer, review the customer’s historical preferences, then select similar or complementary items that sell well in the customer’s region.
1 to 2 hours in advance #
Update your sales software to include latest data
Nothing screams disorganized quite like showcasing incorrect or out-of-date information when presenting your product. Perhaps the products you’re showcasing are sold out and you don’t know it yet. Or there are discontinued products in the catalog or presentation. Or pricing is not completely up-to-date. Whatever the issue, you don’t want to have to include a pre-qualifier or post-qualifier when speaking about your product. “After this next update” or “After I get updated product availability” won’t cut it. Once you’ve failed to make a good impression, that moment is lost. Make sure your product portfolio, availability, and sales collateral are updated regularly, so that you don’t have to compromise when showcasing your product.
Test screen mirroring
Nothing kills early momentum in a sales meeting quite like fumbling through your video conferencing software. With all the meeting software options these days - Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams and all the others - the user experience varies and can be confusing. For sales reps using iPad-based applications, there can be an added layer of difficulty when displaying product information. The software you select to mirror your iPad to your computer display should be simple, fast, and easy to use. Test your screen mirroring capabilities with a quick run-through of your presentation to make sure your visuals display correctly. Make sure you’re up to speed on how to use your video conference software and how to display your screen. Even if you are familiar with the software, check it one more time before the meeting to make sure there are no updates that could throw you off during the sales call. You don’t want to wait until the meeting starts to discover your video conference software provider decided to change the location of their share screen button.
10 minutes before meeting #
Turn off notifications on iPad or computer and silence your phone
I love a good Beyonce ringtone as much as the next guy, but your prospect may not be a fan. Silence your phone. Furthermore, you and your coworker’s conversation regarding the best bike trails in the area may be interesting, but it can wait for an hour. So put your computer alerts on do-not-disturb mode. My puppy has proved problematic, but he can be distracted by a $1 tennis ball. For those of you who have kids, silencing your messages might be a bit of a dilemma. If possible, lay your phone by your laptop face up on silent. This way you can quickly glance for any emergency messages while primarily focusing on the task at hand: closing that deal.
Remove distracting or confidential info from desktop
Saving important files to your computer desktop or home screen seems like such an easy solution until you have five prospects staring at it. The information on your desktop could be a distraction that draws attention away from your presentation, or worse. Disclosing confidential information can leave you legally liable. Or showing your prospects information regarding a competitor could kill your momentum and leave them counting down the minutes until the meeting is over. If you take anything away from this blog, it should be this: clear your desktop before presenting to strangers.
Start your meeting!
It’s go time. You’re ready to start your meeting and close that opportunity! Always start a little early! Open the meeting five minutes ahead of time to ensure everything is working correctly. This demonstrates organization and respect for the participants. It also frequently results in opportunities to chat and build relationships with participants who join the meeting early.
There is no such thing as a perfect online meeting. Some things are out of your control. Meetings will drop due to Internet connection issues. Speakers and microphones will disconnect at the least opportune time. But following these guidelines and preparing for your meeting to the best of your ability will ensure you have the best opportunity to successfully work your sales magic.