Sales tips for the aspiring rock star!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Starting Your Meetings With Impact

Greetings from Invesco Field in Denver Colorado where I will be making my presentation Friday on "Closing 2.0 . . . Beyond The ABC's Of Closing"!

OK, pop quiz. How long does it take to make an impression on someone? 30 seconds? 10? Less? I say, who the hell cares because one thing is for certain, it may be damn near impossible to undo a bad first impression!

Here’s something that you can do in your very next client/prospect meeting to set this Mo Fo off properly and get some additional benefits.

I’d like for you to consider using an agenda statement. An agenda statement is used to lay out the specifics of the meeting and also:

Set the tone for a collaborative meeting (kind of important, right?)

Take control; without being controlling. Can I get a group AMEN when I say there is a huge difference between the two?

Create a powerful and lasting impression of you as a potential rock star to consider as a partner.

Here’s how I break it down:

Part I: Show gratitude and tell them what the plan is:
Part II: Tell them how long you will need
Part III: Ask if there is anything they want to add (Don’t forget, this is a collaborative meeting so we want to set that tone immediately)

Here’s how I usually begin my meetings. Please adjust for your particular style.

(Prospect’s name) First and foremost, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. With your permission, let’s:

1) Talk about you and your company. Specifically any challenges or opportunities that we could put our heads together on.
2) Discuss how we have been able to help other (I fill in the blank) Manufacturers, Healthcare, companies in the NY area etc.
3) Decide on a next step that makes sense.

Depending on you, I expect we should need about (fill in the blank)
Note: Notice how I said “Depending on you” I say that because good meetings often go beyond the time we originally agreed on. I leave that up to them so they know I was true to my original promise to keep it at a certain amount of time.

Note (numero dos) Some reps feel that you should never remind someone how much time you need because it might invite push back or a reschedule. Personally, I’d rather get everything out on the table upfront instead of proceeding and then 15 mins in, I’m told they only have 5 mins more. I can always deal with time issues better when I know on the front end!
Final step:

Is there anything that we should add to the agenda?

I then transition into the meat and potatoes of the meeting and launch into my needs analysis by saying:

Great! Let me start by asking you this . . .

Believe it or not, the agenda statement is an important step in the process because it helps you to take control of the meeting and get the proper selling environment!

How many times have we arrived at a meeting only to get the feeling a prospect was expecting us to sort of entertain them with a "pitch"? How many times have we started a meeting only to get slammed with pricing questions that would be disastrous to answer at that point because we haven't had time to build value? The agenda statement can help you in that department and help you demonstrate your facilitation skills and a quiet confidence in the way you took the reigns of the meeting.

Today’s Reflection: Try this agenda statement on for size! Tweak it to your style and personality (your prospect’s too) Know when its better to be more casual.

Will this be the thing that you do that ultimately gets you the deal? Do you think your prospect will say to you “Dude, that agenda statement was what made me decide to give you the green light”? Doubt it! But, add this into a mix with lots of other things you do better and more consistently than your competition and you now have created a mega difference!

Our success won't be found in the "Big Answer" ladies and gentlemen. It lies in being impeccable and focusing on the details!

Go get ‘em!

Subscribe to Paul Castain's Sales Playbook by Email


  1. Paul, as usual great post.

    The other item I would add to your meeting start script is give them permission to say "NO". Tell them at the beginning of the meeting its OK if at the end of the meeting they don't want to move forward. The statement is a wonderful set up for the question about what the next step would be if they like your presentation and want to move forward.

    I try to have this conversation both when setting up the appointment and again at the beginning of the first meeting.

  2. Terrific post and nice add-on by Ken. How I wish I had had this sort of information when I was a sales puppy. I could have saved countless hours wasted on buyer who had no idea where my presentation was going, largely because I didn't either.

  3. Thank you Ken and Hank for sharing your comments.

    Ken: You are spot on! I have a place where I used to say just that but I like it positioned better at the beginning of the meeting per you suggestion.

    Hank: I wish I could say that I know these things because I was brilliant. Truth be told, I know these things because I have made every stupid mistake in the book.

  4. Paul, Love the post. For teh buyer and the seller, the meeting gets off to such an open, comfortable start when one follows your advice. I've even sent my "Opening Comments" in an email the day before along the same lines above. It is great when we all show up with the same expectations and goals. Starting meetings this way gives the buyer some ownership for a productive meeting and the whole thing becomes more productive and enjoyable. Thanks for another great topic!


Free Sales Tips By Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Shades to hide my true identity! :)

Join Our New Linkedin Group! Click On The Picture

Add Me

View Paul Castain's profile on LinkedIn


Castain Guarantee

Castain Guarantee

About Me

My photo
Paul Castain is the Vice President of Sales Development for Consolidated Graphics (CGX) one of North America’s leading general commercial printing companies. Paul has over 25 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He has trained, mentored and coached over 3,000 sales and sales leadership professionals. An accomplished public speaker, Paul has delivered numerous key note addresses. He has authored numerous training manuals, articles, blog posts and is currently working on his first book for release in 2011. Feel free to email Paul This has been a paid announcement by the friends of Paul Castain!

About This Blog

Paul Castain's Sales Play Book is blog dedicated to strengthening our sales game, supporting rock star development and developing jedi like skills. All that is required is a willingness to learn and a sick sense of humor!

Topics Discussed: sales, sales leadership, cold calling, networking, telemarketing, presentation skills, social networking, twitter, linkedin, facebook, google, technorati, digg, training, sales tips, SEO, job hunting, hiring, recruiting, best practices, pipeline management, CRM, goals, time management, motivational, inspirational, social media, online marketing, ning, job openings, speakers, trainers, associations, blogs, bloggers, articles, sales management, onboarding, NLP, SPIN Selling, Unemployment, news, wordpress, dress for success, inside sales, call center,

Blog Archive


Add to Technorati Favorites


Sales Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory