I recently had the pleasure of trekking in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda to visit the Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. An experience of a lifetime! Unlike a safari where you sit comfortably in a truck and the highlights of your excursion appear before your very eyes with little effort on your part, visiting with the Gorillas was an experience you had to work for. We needed to be prepared to trek vertically for four hours to find the objects of amazement. A matter of fact in trip guide notes it said:
“Tracking gorillas in the dense forest can sometimes be wet, muddy and uncomfortable. The terrain is by no means easy either, so it can be pretty strenuous and often humid …You need to be prepared and fit enough to walk up to 4 hours – up and down hill.”
Now for many, depending on your fitness level, climbing up four hours would not be a challenge, but for others this may be the most physical exercise that you had done in quite some time. We had one woman on our trip that was challenged by this task. A matter of fact on a previous hike she had to turn back as she was not physically fit enough to complete the journey. Upon discussing the even more challenging hike ahead, seeing the Gorillas, she informed us traveling companions that not seeing the Gorillas was not an option. This was a life long dream. Although we all supporter her and wanted her to fulfill her dream, I couldn’t help question what had she done to prepare to realize that dream? Paying for the ticket and showing up is not enough.
This is often how sales representatives enter into business meetings, presentations or negotiations – unprepared. Getting the meeting, showing up and having a desire is not enough to demonstrate success.
Here are some preparation tips to ensure you are able to reach your objectives for the meeting, presentation or negotiation so that what ever your ‘dream’ is at least you will have won enough business to financially support it.
Sales meeting preparation strategy:
- Research the company –
Have your colleagues or network dealt with them before?
What is their mission and vision of the organization?
- How do you fit in with that mission or vision?
What are their latest news releases? (Often found on their website).
The most pressing issues for the organization?
- Who will be in the meeting?
What are their titles, areas of responsibility?
What might those individuals in that role concern themselves with?
Based on their role, what may be their possible communication style?
- Why did they take the meeting?
What did I say to capture their attention for the meeting?
- What are some key values that the prospect may possess based on your research?
- What is your objective for the meeting? Be clear, as that will dictate questions you formulate.
- What questions should you prepare? Remember don’t over prepare your questions as you want to have a conversation not an interrogation.
What are some big questions (Macro questions) that would start the conversation and elicit business objectives for this individual and for the company? (Prepare three, just in case one of the questions doesn’t elicit enough of a response. Include a question that focuses on the future. Such a question will uncover opportunities to work together long-term.)
What are some questions that would challenge your perspective clients’ thinking? These questions are the most important to use in a meeting as they demonstrate your expertise while often creating an opportunity that was not as obvious to the prospect.
- What evidence should you prepare to share based on the prospect’s industry and possible objectives?
- Lastly, email or call the day before to confirm the meeting and the location.
Following is a quick reference guide to questions you should ask yourself while preparing for a presentation, formal or informal. Keep in mind, if you haven’t had a conversation with key stakeholders prior to the presentation, you will limit your level of success.
1. Audience Analysis
- Who is my audience?
- Who are the decision-makers?
- Who are the key influencers?
- What is their level of understanding?
- What is important to them?
- What are their key issues?
- What is their communication style(s)?
- What is their level of understanding of my subject?
- What is their decision-making process?
- What do we have in common with them?
- What are their expectations of the presentation?
- What will motivate them to accept the information or recommendation? (Emotional, rational, political & cultural motivators.)
- What will they tell their peers as being the reason(s) we won their business?
2. Collect Relevant Information
- Do I have the right amount of information?
- Is the information I have relevant to the audience to whom I am communicating?
- Has the audience asked to hear specific information?
- What else would they be interested in based on their industry, experience and issues?
3. Set an Objective
- What do I want the audience to think, feel or do as a result of my presentation?
- Is the objective reasonable and achievable?
- What needs to change in the listeners’ minds?
(For the complete list of Ten Planning Components to a Persuasive Presentation subscribe free to Wisdom Exchange TV (www.wisdomexchangetv.com), the form is on the right hand side of the site. Wisdom Exchange TV is a leadership website discussing leadership and business strategies from Women leaders all over Africa. Use promo code WE096)
Negotiation preparation strategy:
The Ignite Excellence negotiation game plan will assist you in achieving your objective of negotiating the best possible outcome. Consider the following planning steps as a start to prepare the Game Plan for your next negotiation. To receive the remaining steps click:
1. Set your Objective
- Do you have a clear objective? It may seem obvious, but the more clearly and succinctly you define what you are trying to achieve, the more likely you are to prepare an effective Game Plan.
- Are you aware of the objective of the other party?
- What are all the issues (i.e. anything of value that needs to be split among the parties)?
- What are your issues? Do you and your manager agree on the issues?
- Do you know for certain what the issues are of the other party? If not, you must plan based on your assumption of their issues and then verify during the process.
3. Assess Strengths & Weaknesses (Ours and Theirs) “SWOT”
- By assessing Strengths & Weaknesses you can continue to remove yourself from the ‘emotional’ aspects of the negotiation and think rationally & critically about the factors that may impact your ability to negotiate.
- Consider your strengths & weaknesses and those of the other party.
My travel companion did make it! The guides ensured she had the shortest distance to hike. Prospects are not that accommodating. In a first time sales call, if you do a good job of asking the right questions to solicit understanding of your prospect’s situation you may be able to compensate for bad preparation. However, without due diligence for a presentation or negotiation your ‘getting the meeting, showing up and having a desire’ will not be enough to achieve winning results.
We all have aspirations and dreams; with proper preparation your success rate increases drastically!
Action: Before your next sales meeting, presentation or negotiation ask yourself, “Do I know enough about the prospect, their company, their situations, values, issues to ensure I ask the right questions, present the right information or negotiate to my strengths? If not, you have more work to do to put yourself in a position to realize your dreams.
Visit our other Ignite Excellence Inc. Group of initiatives’ websites with corresponding blogs.
Suzanne F Stevens – Profiling women leaders who have pushed their edge to personal or professional potential from backpack to briefcase to boardroom, keynotes & Coaching
Ignite Excellence Foundation – Leadership, Advocacy, Education – following donations to scholarships for women in emerging countries
Wisdom Exchange TV – A forum where women will be inspired from the achievements of African women in business, education, philanthropy and politics.
You Me & We – a husbands and wife’s journey through Africa in 2011/12
Ignite Excellence Inc. – Influence, Differentiate, Engage more people and more business – a Leadership & sales training & development company