3 Steps to Successfully Start a Sales Meeting

BY Jessica Helinski
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How you start a sales meeting matters. Establishing the mood and pace right away can put your attendees at ease and create an environment that nurtures productivity (and keeps attendees engaged).

Starting a sales meeting right will make the entire meeting more efficient, effective, and impactful,” writes LinkedIn’s Paul Petrone. “It’ll also save you (and your clients) way more time in the long run – and position you as a valuable, strategic partner right at the beginning.”

You can achieve all those things with your own meetings but doing so takes some thought. Paul shares tips to help sellers smoothly start a sales meeting that engages attendees and gets results. Even if you’re conducting meetings virtually, you can still apply his suggestions.

  1. Mention common connections
  2. Use a purpose statement
  3. Share an agenda

Start a sales meeting with common connections

Immediately set everyone at ease and boost engagement by bringing up connections among attendees. This first step can do wonders for everyone’s comfort level. Plus, it can inspire dialogue when not everyone may feel like talking. 

It's important to be informed about prospects and clients. Before your each meeting, brush up on attendees and look out for connecting points to mention. This eases everyone comfortably into the meeting while piquing interest and encouraging rapport. This also shows that you have an interest in the attendees and made efforts to know them beyond just “doing business.” If you’re meeting with clients, doing this shows post-​sale support, which is often lacking from vendors. If your meeting is with prospects, they'll see they can expect superior customer service and a caring business partner.

Use a purpose statement to show value and set expectations

It’s important after that first discussion to get everyone comfortable by informing them of what the meeting is about. A purpose statement can be the easiest and most efficient way to do this. This single sentence simply explains why the attendees are meeting with you. Make sure you emphasize their involvement and what they are going to get from the meeting. Whether it’s onboarding new clients or discussing prospects’ goals, start each sales meeting by stating the value attendees should expect.

Share a brief agenda

In this step, you follow up on the previous one by explaining how you’ll carry out the purpose statement. “Show your clients how much you respect their time by telling them exactly how you’re going to use it at the top of the meeting,” Petrone explains. It helps to start a meeting with an agenda because it sets expectations and pace. You can even go as far as to mention the approximate time each step takes.

RAIN Group’s Mike Schultz takes this step even further by including attendees in the agenda discussion. After sharing the agenda, he suggests asking attendees if there is there anything they would like to add. “You never know what you’re going to hear, but whatever it is, you want to hear it and do what you can to satisfy it,” he explains. “The more you understand, the more you can tailor your conversation” to attendees. And by starting a meeting with this information, you can easily adapt the course to include any topics they would like covered.

 Set the path for success, in-​person and virtually

As mentioned before, these and the rest of Petrone’s tips can be used to successfully start a meeting both in-​person and digitally. As many meetings continue to be virtual, it’s important to keep these best practices in mind, as well as our other tips for meetings when you can’t in-​person. Establishing expectations and pace, as well as boosting rapport and comfort, can help your meetings succeed for you and those attending.

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