How to Get the Attendees You Want at Your Next Sales Encounter

How do you get the right people to show up to your appointment?  Without the right parties involved your meeting will be at best a waste of time and at worst an annoyance.  The key to getting the right parties to attend your meeting is in the definition of your meeting objective.

Defining the Objectives of the Meeting

The meeting objective drives everything else. It shows each attendee why it’s important to attend, sets expectations as to what the meeting will accomplish, helps prospects prepare, and provides a way to determine the meeting’s effectiveness. If you’re not sure why you are meeting, chances are your stakeholders won’t know either.

By clearly outlining meeting objectives you are far more likely to get the attendance you need, and more importantly, the acceptance you need for your change initiative. If you haven’t already, you should identify all stakeholders that should be involved in your meeting and consider what their personal objectives might be. Remember that companies don’t buy things — people do. Each of the individual stakeholders will have their own objectives which may or may not be in alignment with the other members of the group. Understanding each stakeholder’s personal objectives will greatly improve your stated meeting objective.

Phrasing Your Stated Meeting Objective

It is paramount that prospects anticipate that our meeting with them is going to be valuable. The primary focus should be the prospect’s agenda — their stated interests, challenges, goals, etc. — not yours. Although we have our own objectives for the meeting, the meeting objective should be stated from the prospect’s perspective and focused on the outcomes they hope to achieve. There should be no mention of products and services whatsoever, only the outcomes they hope to achieve by utilizing those things.

To the degree possible, your stated meeting objective should be broad enough to interest all relevant parties in the meeting. The narrower your audience, the easier this becomes. For example, if your attendees are 100% IT staff then your stated meeting objective can be narrowed to describe technical issues of interest. However, when your audience includes people from executive management, finance, IT, operations, the legal department, and field personnel it can become more challenging.

When this happens, zoom out and consider the outcomes that are important to everyone when phrasing your meeting objective.

To sum up, your stated meeting objective should:

  1. Be stated from the prospect’s perspective.
  2. Focus on the outcomes they hope to achieve.
  3. Be broad enough to be of interest to all attendees.

Examples of stated meeting objectives:

  • Explore best practices for growing business despite challenges with lower customer engagement.
  • Review & discuss benefits, implications & trade-offs of 100% cloud deployment.
  • Discuss strategies for preparing for value-based reimbursement.
  • Review practical steps for reducing risk & simplifying regulatory compliance issues.
  • Review & discuss strategies for preparing for reimbursement models that place a greater share of financial risk on the organization.
  • Examine the top 5 strategies for reducing operational costs while maintaining quality.
  • Discuss & finalize agreement terms & conditions.

You’ll find that the first word in each of these examples is a verb. My favorite word to use is “Discuss” because it implies the kind of collaboration I tend to look for in my meetings. Here are some other words you will find useful for phrasing your stated meeting objective:

 

 

 

Stated Meeting Objectives Help You Plan

Another benefit of phrasing your stated meeting objective from the prospect’s perspective is it helps you plan the meeting in a way that adds value for them. The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. It also suggests what questions and issues may arise and will help you be more prepared for these discussions when they happen.

Agendas Show Potential Attendees Why They Should Attend

The worst thing that can happen to your meeting is having little or no attendance. No progress can be made if the right people do not attend your meeting. Meeting value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Until we articulate the value of the meeting in our agenda, potential attendees will assume that your meeting will be the typical waste of time that most corporate meetings are.

By outlining the purpose of the meeting, topics to be discussed, and its time frame, potential attendees can easily determine whether or not they should attend. The best way to do this is to explicitly state what the outcome objective is. When we tie the outcome to important objectives the prospect wants to achieve, attendees will make space on their calendar for your meeting — which is tremendously beneficial because you will have the right people in the room to help your initiative succeed. This alone can shorten your sales cycle. Having key individuals attend or not attend can make and break sales. Your agenda shows them why they need to attend and prepares you to satisfy their expectations.

Having the right parties in attendance also provides a measure of risk control after the sale is complete. Stakeholders who participated in the evaluation stages are more likely to feel their concerns were listened to, that they influenced the decision, and that their needs were addressed. This higher level of communication and participation reduces possible negative reactions to future, unforeseen incidents.

If your solution requires dramatic change for your prospect, sending your agenda in advance familiarizes stakeholders with the initiative prior to your meeting and eliminates possible surprise responses that occur when they learn of these things for the first time during your meeting.

A key to getting the right parties to attend your meeting is in the definition of the stated meeting objective you use in your agenda. With a little thought and preparation, you can send a signal that will attract all the right parties to your next sales encounter.

Closing Tip:  Prepare a compelling stated meeting objective for every sales encounter.

Until next time!

James

PS – You can download sample agendas for your next sales encounter at: http://puremuir.com/resources/

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