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When should you commit to the eight-legged sales meeting?

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Despite advances in technology and telecommunications, face-to-face meetings remain the ultimate way to build customer relationships and close sales.

Meeting in person demonstrates a certain level of commitment to your prospect or customer – and that’s heightened dramatically if you take your senior team and subject matter experts along to the meeting with you.

These so-called, ‘eight-legged’ new business or customer meetings not only show how seriously you take the opportunity, but also allow you to demonstrate the expertise that exists across your team. Having your team in the room ensures no question goes unanswered – with multiple fields of knowledge enabling you to respond wherever the conversation leads.

Of course, eight-legged meetings can be extremely expensive. In addition to the time commitment that takes several key members of the team out of the office, there may be significant travel or accommodation expenses accrued if the customer or prospect lies further afield.

The strain on the budget can be hard to justify at scale, so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make this level of commitment for every meeting. In this blog, we’ll therefore look at the importance of sales meeting qualification, and identify the sales technology that can help when you can’t take your top people with you.

The art of sales meeting qualification

A new business opportunity may seem appropriate for a multi-person meeting, but taking your team with you could result in the cost of a sale becoming too great. In deciding whether or not to engage several members of the team in a single meeting, you need to establish if it is worth the time, effort and money?

Part of this evaluation will include assessing if the prospect is really ready to buy. Even if they have acknowledged a need for your product or services already, your potential client may not have the budget, conviction or even the authority to make the investment you’re seeking.

You also need to ascertain how likely you are to win the business. No bluff or bravado from your sales team required here – just a cold hard calculation of your chances. You may be in competition with other providers – are you sure you’re in pole position to seal the deal?

And even if you do win the business, is this a sale with the potential for long-term gain? A high cost of customer acquisition is perfectly acceptable if it yields a long-standing, high-valueable relationship.

Managing resource throughout the sales process

Even when you deem an opportunity to be of the utmost importance, it’s essential to manage your resources throughout the sales funnel.

Buyers can now find most of the information they need about a company’s products or services before they even engage a sales person or specialist, so the very early stages of the process will rarely warrant the deployment of all your key resources. That is not to say they won’t want a conversation with an informed sales person early in the process, but this doesn’t mean your entire team needs to be present.

Instead, the eight-legged meeting should be held back for potentially critical occasions further down the line – perhaps when a one-off opportunity arises to sit down in front of the key decision makers, or when a meeting has been clearly marked as a final pitch.

Bear in mind that today buyers increasingly drive much of the sales experience themselves, so if there’s any doubt, it’s not unreasonable to ask at what stage the eight-legged approach is required. Letting the customer decide when to meet the team is another way in which you can show you’re serious about doing business.

Using sales technology to reduce your cost of sale

Clearly, taking your team to every single meeting is a financial impossibility, but for perhaps less than the cost of several eight-legged meetings, you can invest in sales enablement technology that replicates some of the benefits of a multi-person pitch.

Using a presentation platform that aggregates all your content and makes it instantly accessible on demand enables you to draw on expertise from across the business, even without having colleagues in the room.

Whether you’re presenting on a tablet or laptop, you’ll be able to react to the conversation as it unfolds – pulling down pre-approved marketing content that gives the customer all the answers they need, there and then.

By using a modern sales application to create and distribute your content, you will also be able to personalise your pitch to the prospect in question – tailoring the content to focus on the specific problem or frustration they face. A sales person can prepare this in advance of the meeting, maybe over a call with a subject matter expert. This can be a huge cost saving when compared with the potential double impact of taking a billable subject matter expert or product specialist out for the whole day to participate in a live presentation.

You will be able to bring pitches to life by including rich media and videos too, so if budget restraints mean your in-house experts or senior executives can’t physically join you in the room, they could still contribute via video. You can head to the meeting armed with a repository of pre-prepared mini video modules (covering a range of topics), which can be woven seamlessly into your presentation and/or accessed during a Q&A discussion.

Last but not least, when you’ve sold your vision to the customer they don’t want to wait another three weeks for your proposal. Sales enablement technology can play a part here too, turning presentation content into proposals quickly and effortlessly through automation.

Doing this within a few hours of your meeting will show the customer or prospect that they are important to you – regardless of how many people attended the meeting – and provides an electronic version of your leave-behind that can’t be lost under a pile of papers.

In summary

Involving your whole team for every meeting is costly and difficult to manage, so a robust sales meeting qualification process is required in order to ensure effective use of your resources.

Through investment in the right sales enablement technology, you can maximise the effectiveness of all your meetings – regardless of the numbers around the table.

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