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Here’s How To Make Your Agenda Surprisingly Valuable

We’ve been discussing how to make each of your sale encounters inherently valuable.  And it’s important that your prospective client anticipate that their meeting with you will be valuable. The primary focus of the meeting should be the prospect’s agenda. That means their stated interests, challenges, goals, etc. — not yours. “But what about this additional value I’m going to be adding?” you ask?

Nuances of Planning Your Agenda

Be aware of these nuances when planning your meeting agenda:

  1. The agenda should reflect their stated goals and interests as mentioned above. This is important above all else.
  2. Your value-added component should be listed on the agenda as a general term or area. It should not be stated explicitly in the agenda.

I know what you’re thinking.  James, “If I’m adding value to the meeting, shouldn’t I be explicit about that value? Won’t that increase their desire to meet and participate?”  There are times when you may want to define on the agenda the added value you intend to bring, however, cast your mind back to the Huthwaite research mentioned in previous post where Huthwaite determined the buyer’s conditions for being willing to paying more:

  • The seller identified an Unanticipated Solution for the buyer’s problems.
  • The seller identified an Unrecognized Problem the buyer was experiencing.
  • The seller identified an Unseen Opportunity.

Unexpected Value

Recall that all of these point to something that is new and unknown to the prospect. The surprise factor is an important part of what makes these conditions impactful. I like to refer to this principle as Unexpected Value.

Unexpected Value – unanticipated value your prospect or client receives as a result of your meeting.

Are You Telegraphing Your Surprise?

Being overt about the bonus value we intend to bring to the meeting telegraphs our value in advance and potentially diminishes the impact it will have during the meeting.  Again, the surprise is an important part of what creates the value.  So, we want to create a more generic description for the time in the agenda when we will be adding our surprise value.

Here are some examples:

  • Instead of including the agenda item, “The 5 biggest pitfalls for executives, developers, and end-users” or “Solving the 5 biggest pitfalls,”  instead use something like, “Top Challenges” or “Pitfalls.”
  • Instead of, “Sample Implementation Plan.” Use something like, “Execution,” “Realization,” or “Implementation.”

These more general descriptions mask the surprise, of the concrete value you are going to deliver. Then, of course, when you come to this agenda item, deliver the value you planned in full detail.

A Welcome Surprise

Do you see how each of these provides the opportunity in the agenda to insert Unexpected Value without telegraphing it in advance? This ensures that your unexpected value is a welcome surprise and carries more value. After all, who doesn’t enjoy a welcome surprise? For those involved in complex sales where many meetings occur, your clients and prospects will identify you very quickly (sometimes after only two meetings), that you are a valuable source of knowledge and insight.

Make Sure the Agenda Meets Their Expectations

We’ll talk more about agendas in an upcoming post, but there’s not much worse than the prospect feeling you have wasted their time because their expectation of what would be covered was not met.  This is a simple thing to avoid and will never happen when you are professional and prepared.  The key is to confirm your agenda with the client.

Make sure your agenda satisfies their expectation of what they want covered.  Based on their input, create a proposed agenda and send it to them.  Ask if there is anything else they would like to add. If there is, add it and reconfirm by sending a revised agenda. Then you can be sure you are both on the same wavelength. This alone will make your meeting more valuable.

It is unprofessional not to have an agenda. Not having an agenda sends the message that you are a time-waster not a value creator. It’s easy to create an agenda, even if it is short.  Be professional and craft one for every encounter.

Closing Tip:  Create an agenda for each sales encounter and engineer Unexpected Value into each one.

Until next time!


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