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networking, sales

How to Conduct a Productive Meeting

Last week, we discussed the best practices when welcoming new clients. One of the points was to have an in-person meeting. This brings me to a very important question, do you know how to conduct a productive meeting?

Meeting Agenda

The first thing you should have for every meeting is an agenda. This should be created prior to your meeting and then shared with all parties. You should send the completed agenda 24 hours in advance so any changes can be made prior.

Make sure your agenda includes subcategories to assure all aspects of the topic are covered.

Example:

1. Social Media
          a. Upcoming content
          b. Next Month’s Event
2. Photography

When you sit down to create the agenda, you’re allowing yourself to think through what needs to be discussed. If you have an agenda made, you’ll stay on track and won’t get back to your office to realize you forgot something. This is a vital piece to having a productive meeting. Without it, you’ll end up chatting about the latest sporting event and weekend plans.

Deadlines

What do you really accomplish if you don’t include a deadline? You should have a deadline set for each item on an agenda after your meeting is complete. By doing this, everyone knows when their part needs to be complete. This keeps a project on track and keeps people honest. If the date is set, you can see where a project is lacking when the deadline comes due.

Questions

Write down any questions you have prior to the meeting. They may get answered throughout but if not, you will easily be able to cover anything missed. As previously mentioned, when you sit down to write your agenda you have the luxury of time to think things out. If you go in on the fly, you’re hoping to remember everything. You will accomplish so much if you take the time to prepare for your meeting.

Time

Always be respectful of time. This is such an important aspect of having a productive meeting. If you asked to have an hour meeting, you have only reserved one hour of that person’s time. Don’t go into expecting to run over because even though you might have the time, it doesn’t mean they will. Plus, if you’re prepared, you shouldn’t need more time than what you’ve allotted.

Follow-up

After the meeting, an agenda shows what you’ve accomplished, deadlines to keep you on track, and answered questions. With this, you are able to follow up on what is discussed and check in with updates. This keeps a business process running smoothly.

Remember, when you take time beforehand, you’re ensuring that everyone’s time is taken into consideration. Preparation is key when conducting a productive meeting.

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networking, sales
How to welcome new clients

I have recently been discussing networking your business to get referrals and new business. Once those turn into a business deal, do you know how to welcome new clients?


In-Person Meeting

Meeting in person still holds so much value in the business world. Many things can be confused over email and it doesn’t make for an easy business partnership if your client feels confused. Your first step should be to schedule a meeting with them to go over the basics and really explain how your process will work. This takes out any surprises because you’ll explain your business’s process and have the ability to answer their questions right then and there. You can have this meeting at your favorite local coffee shop, lunch spot or even at their office. Doesn’t matter as long as you meet in person. Don’t forget to discuss your overall goals. Let’s say you are assisting in one aspect of their business, it does not hurt to know what their big goals are. This will help keep your goals aligned with theirs.


Follow up with the Details

After your meeting, you should send a follow-up email. It should thank them for their time along with an overview of the items discussed and what the next step will be. This way they have something to reference as the process of your client relationship begins.


Be Ready and Willing to Answer Questions

Sure you had your initial meeting to answer their questions but that doesn’t mean more won’t come up along the way. You should always let them know you would be happy to answer any questions. This may seem silly but I don’t think you can ever express your willingness to answer questions enough. For example, if I send artwork to a client for approval, I almost always end with “please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.” This seems a little more welcoming than just saying “here is the draft of your artwork.”


Handwritten Thank You’s

After your first project is complete, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch. This is something that most people don’t expect but are pleasantly surprised when they received it. You could send an email saying thank you but it really doesn’t express your true appreciation like sitting down to handwrite a card.


The most important thing to remember is you can’t be too thorough. These may seem like simple, no-brainer points but people tend to overlook the basics. You want your new client to feel like they are aware of what is happening during every part of the process and if they are unsure, you’ll be there to help. This process leads to successful on-going business relationships.

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marketing, sales
Is Cold Calling Still an Effective Sales Technique?

Cold calling can still be an effective sales technique when it’s done the right way. Sadly, most salespeople don’t. I’ve had the unique opportunity to be on the giving and receiving end of thousands of cold calls over my career and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Here are some insights from my experiences and tips for improving your cold calling techniques.


Full Disclosure: I Hate Sales

Correction, I love sales but hate cold calling. Building relationships with clients and providing services which make a difference in their businesses are what I love most about what I do. Unfortunately, cold calling is a necessary evil when developing new business.

Why do I hate cold calling so much? I consider myself a very empathetic person, so how can I do unto others which I would not want done unto me? It seems like every time I get cold called, I end up wanting to spike my phone. You’re telling me I have to do this to other people to develop new business? Yuck.

Before starting my own company, I was a successful Account Executive at TV and radio stations in Northeast Ohio and Columbus. The irony is, I was successful despite struggling mightily with cold calling. I would procrastinate, hide, call in sick, whatever it took to avoid it. When I inevitably stopped sobbing, sucked it up and picked up the phone, I made damn well sure my effort was maximized. Therefore, I always had a plan to get the most sales for the least amount of calls. Here’s what you can do to increase the effectiveness of your cold calling…


Preparation

• Build a master list: The idea is quality over quantity. Only target prospects who can benefit the most from what you’re selling.

• Build an even smaller Top Prospect list: these prospects are the blue-chip prospects that you know have the potential to be a great partnership. Needless to say, they get additional effort up front.

• Research EVERY prospect: Most salespeople won’t do this. As such, if you actually get to speak with a decision maker, your preparation will make a great impression.

The Call

• NO SCRIPTS: When you do your research, you don’t need a canned, one-size-fits-all script. By being prepared, you can have a real conversation about the prospect’s business and a thoughtful reason for contacting them. Scripted pitches scream, “my manager told me to make 100 calls today and you’re one of them.” This is not a good way to compel a prospect to hear what you have to say.

• Respect the prospect: Actually getting to talk to a decision maker is no small miracle. Don’t blow it by hammering this person with manipulative tactics and clever ways to overcome objections. You did your homework. Now show them you’re prepared, clearly and transparently articulate your motives and be respectful of the prospect’s time. Cold calling in The Wolf of Wall Street (Warning: Rated R) was entertaining to watch, but that brand of selling is what gives salespeople their atrocious reputations.

• Have a clear objective: What do you want out of the call? For me, it’s always to schedule a face-to-face meeting. The phone is no place to sell complex services.

Follow Up

If the prospect agrees to a meeting, make sure it stays that way. Send a follow-up email confirming the details of the appointment. If there is more than a week between the cold call and the meeting, send a confirmation by mail. Let’s face it, the more time goes by, the more likely it is that the prospect will back out. Proper follow up will help reassure the prospect that sitting down with you is not a waste of time.


Conclusion

While there might not be a cold calling strategy out there which makes it fun (at least for me), utilizing the strategy I outlined above will certainly increase sales and decrease frustration for all parties involved. Ultimately, effective cold calling depends on selecting the right prospects, being prepared and being respectful. Time to smile and dial!

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