Here’s a meeting leader’s checklist of responsibilities for key elements in a typical salesperson team/client meeting (regardless of content) — with special emphasis on what the meeting leader does to assure that he/she remains “in charge,” even if others appropriately do the bulk of the talking and/or “outrank” the meeting leader.
The four asterisked items (*) below are meeting direction-changing “transition steps;” they’re unfailingly the meeting leader’s responsibility. To understand them fully, see our July 10 blog, The Power of “Transition Steps” in Making Meetings Work. (Other recent Baron Group blogs discuss meeting positioning, questioning/listening, presenting and objection resolution, too.)
The key meeting elements, and who handles them:
- Making Introductions— It’s your team, so you should handle their intros, but you may want each team member to add something in his/her own words, too.
- Building Rapport— By definition, relationship-building conversations are shared among the members of both teams, including you. It’s your responsibility to signal when it’s time to move on to business.
- Setting the Agenda— This one’s yours. Remember to get client confirmation that he/she agrees with your agenda; it’s always ‘the client’s meeting.’
- Confirming the “Time Contract” — This one’s yours, too. By confirming the available time, the meeting leader also shows respect for the client’s time constraints and need for efficiency.
- Preparing the Client for Questions*— It’s also yours, as you shift the conversation to situation analysis, and assure the client that his/her forthright responses will lead to your best possible recommendations.
- Asking Questions to Determine Client Needs— This all-important step is shared among your teammates. Here, specialist “subject matter experts” may carry much of the load if the issues are arcane; you should contribute “big picture” questions regarding the client’s goals, aspirations/concerns and strategic issues.
- Listening for Client Needs— This prime responsibility is shared with your teammates; you don’t want to miss a single client need, stated or implied.
- Reviewing the “Needs As Understood”*— You are the spokesperson performing this critically important step, but be sure to poll your colleagues and include any additional client needs they may have noted.
- Making Recommendations— Clearly a shared responsibility: your specialist teammates may dominate the “air time” here, and rightly so.
- Asking for Feedback*— This one is yours alone. The meeting leader turns the conversation from presentation to client evaluation of the recommendations.
- Resolving Client Objections— This is a mini-process in itself, always seeking an in-depth understanding of the client’s concern(s) before addressing them. So, it’s a shared activity; you’re the leader and faithful custodian of this often-abused process.
- Inviting Other Client Comments*— After all objections have apparently been resolved, this transition step is yours alone; offering the client a chance to volunteer lingering concerns, if any, before moving ahead.
- Closing the Sale— It’s typically yours; sometimes, your ranking teammate may want to handle this.
- Next Steps— They’re yours to summarize; just make sure everybody concurs.
The consultative salesperson who invariably performs his/her “solo” duties will always look like and actually be the meeting leader.
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