Nailing Your First Business Meeting with an Executive

BY Rachel Cagle
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Meeting with higher ups of a prospective client company is a nerve-​racking ordeal. There’s a lot of pressure on you as a salesperson to sell yourself and your product or service within the time your prospect has allowed you. Heather Baldwin in her article, “Four Ways to Offer Powerful Value to Executives,” says that no matter how tempted you are to script your entire meeting, you should instead go into it with the mindset of listening to the prospect and going off of what he or she says. Here are some suggestions on how to organize your meeting.

First off, don’t be late. “You’re on time if you’re five minutes early,” is a common phrase that is, unfortunately, often overlooked. Don’t let your prospect’s first impression of you be that you’re someone who doesn’t care enough to be on time. It implies that you don’t value the executive's time or the meeting you have been granted.

Roughly the first 17% of your allotted time should be put toward your introduction. This is where you establish your credibility and pique the executive’s interest by bringing up the mutual connection that helped you set up the meeting and the fact that you have worked with companies similar to the prospect’s own in the past.

The meat of your meeting (a little less than 50% of your time) should be comprised of questions you have prepared for the prospect. These questions should spotlight the fact that you have done extensive research into the company and should be aimed toward prompting the executive to realize problems that she may have overlooked within her company. Problems that you have the answers to.

Spend the next quarter of your meeting discussing potential solutions to the problems previously brought to light. Baldwin points out that you should focus on the solutions themselves from a peer-​to-​peer perspective, not in a, “Well, look what my amazing product or service can do for you,” manner. Remember, you’re selling yourself too. So, don’t hide behind your product or service. Show that doing business with you will offer business and personal value to the prospect’s company.

Wrap things up by setting up a time to meet again in the future to put your planned solutions in motion. Successful sales include laying the groundwork for a future business relationship. Following these steps will help you get a good start.