The title of this blog posting is very clear; good work starts with a decent preparation. Of course this sounds very simple and you might say this is a no-brainer, but in business life, there still are people who act unprepared.
An IDC survey from 2011 found that sales and business professionals are often unprepared for initial customer meetings.
· 40% of sales pitches are too generic.
· 57% of sales people are poorly prepared/ unprepared for an initial client meeting.
· 50% of sales people need to be better informed about client specific requirements.
These figures really stutter me since almost all relevant company information, news, facts & figures, personal information on your contact and what not is available on the internet. And of course in your CRM system if you have one.
It’s for free, a mouse click away!
Get to know the company you are visiting
Proper preparation starts with getting to know the company you are visiting. What business are they in, which markets do they serve, any recent news posted, which customers do they have.
This information can be easily found on their website. Don't forget to read the job openings as the job descriptions will provide you with more detailed information. Sometimes here you even find the name of a contact person you did not know yet.
Compare their customers with yours, a mutual customer is always good reference! Maybe you can even call this customer upfront and ask if they will provide you with some more detailed information or do a good word for you.
Try to find some similar customers in your customer base which you can mention and in a later phase use as a reference. If you do not have any customers in the same segment or business type try to find some customers which have their offices situated in the neighbourhood of your prospect. This is often a good alternative for lacking similar references.
At last never forget to Google the company name to see if there is additional information which is useful.
Do a full bio search on your contact
There are different sources to learn more about the contact you are visiting.
Your contact’s entire business profile can be found on the internet via LinkedIn. Read all about the jobs your contact had before and look at the people he or she knows. It won't hurt if you find out that this person worked together with your brother in law! Maybe your contact even worked at a company which is a customer of yours nowadays.
Opening the details of a contact on LinkedIn also helps you to get more attention of your contact as you will pop-up in the list of people of have viewed their profile. It is not a shame that you prepare!
Opening the profile of your contact on social network sites can be helpful as well. Maybe you share the same hobby as your contact or spent your holiday in the same country. It surely will give you some topics for the small talk part of your meeting.
All actions above will take you about 10-20 minutes. It will definitely help you to be remembered instead of forgotten after the first meeting.
Let us introduce a new saying here: Who remembers to prepare, prepares to be remembered.