Selling face-to-face is a much different game than selling over the phone or by email. On-site sales meetings and door knocking used to be the only way to make a deal, but the advent of the Internet and the preference for more casual communications changed that. Now, many salespeople aren’t accustomed to selling on-site.
On-site sales meetings may feel intimidating but it can be a much more powerful and persuasive way to get the dotted line signed. Here are five essential tips for successfully selling face-to-face.
It Starts With the Meeting Invitation
Your chance for on-site sales success starts with how you set up the meeting. First, make sure you’re getting the right people in the room. Without the real decision-makers present, a meeting is not much more than a show. If key players aren’t available, insist on holding off until they are. And be sure to request enough time; for a big presentation, one hour likely isn’t enough to make your pitch, answer questions and close the deal. Request a meeting block of at least two hours.
When you send the meeting request over to your prospects, take the time to be as precise as possible with the details. Outline the meeting agenda and specify what the objectives are. Then, send a separate, internal invitation to members of your own team. Add further detail to the agenda, describe what each person’s particular role is and outline the team’s strategy.
Don’t Wait Until Meeting Day
The decision-makers you need in the room are likely busy executives, with demanding schedules. That means the time between your meeting request and the actual meeting could be weeks.
Don’t let the line go cold during those days. Along with your team, try to anticipate what questions or concerns the other side may have during or after your presentation. Then, figure out how you can address them before meeting day. That could mean sending over a case study, fact sheet or other supporting materials. Remember that you want to be helpful, not annoying; limit your pre-meeting contact to an email or two.
Be Prepared (Really Prepared)
Selling face-to-face successfully requires practice. Don’t expect to walk in cold and land the deal. In the week leading up to the meeting, make sure each of your team members understands his or her role and that everyone has a thorough understanding of the prospect company, their business needs and each of the representatives you’ll be meeting with.
Then, consider holding a mock meeting. Run through your presentation as you would with your prospects. Have one of your colleagues play skeptic and pose the tough questions you’ll likely have to answer.
This dress rehearsal can help you identify any weak spots in your presentation. Make sure you leave enough time between the practice session and the real deal to make any necessary edits and additions to your presentation and supporting materials.
Command the Meeting
When meeting day arrives, remember who’s in charge — you. To ensure your prospects believe in the solution you’re selling, you need to make them believe in you first. To successfully run the meeting, you need to:
- Speak confidently and authoritatively
- Take the time to introduce yourself, and your team members
- Run through the agenda to make sure everyone understands the flow
- Pause at various points and ask if there are questions
- Back your teammates up. If a colleague is struggling with nerves or has lost track of their material, wait for a polite time to speak up and then continue for them
- Stay calm. If a tech issue interrupts your presentation, make light of it
- Leave plenty of time for discussion at the end
- Above all, project confidence. You want this sale, but your prospects shouldn’t know how badly. Don’t let them sense desperation or uncertainty
Set Up the Next Steps
Your prospects will likely ask for time to consider your pitch but that doesn’t mean you should walk out without a plan.
Create a sense of accountability for their team and yours, giving responsibilities to both sides. That could mean that you’ll send them any required documents or information within two days, while the key contact on their side agrees to speak with the rest of their team within three days.
If your prospects are trying to avoid assigning specific deadlines, then politely push them for a reason why.
Later that day or the following morning, send an email (to everyone who was in the meeting) that recaps what was discussed in the meeting, how your solution addresses their business problem and what the next steps and the responsibilities are. Finish the email by setting a date and time for your next call or in-person meeting.