Why clear goals set the agenda for client dates

Events ranked as the number one productivity killer. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Events ranked as the number one productivity killer. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

To make your client meetings productive, have a quantifiable goal. Office meetings are a common tool of business. Paradoxically, many attendees (even sales people in sales meetings) consider them a waste of time. One survey showed that meetings ranked as the number one office productivity killer. A primary reason for this, is because the objective of the meeting is not clearly articulated. The client meeting is no different. In fact, there are buyers who will respond to your request for a meeting with, “What’s the objective?” It’s unlikely a subjective, “Just to check on you” will get you a nod. Further, powering aimlessly through a meeting is unproductive to the current sale.

It may also leave the client on the receiving end of your meanderings, unenthusiastic about agreeing to future meetings. Such meetings are time-wasting.

Having a quantifiable goal for a meeting serves another purpose. It instils discipline in the salesperson in three ways. First, it makes him purposeful.

A simple goal such as “To get three referrals” or, “To make the pitch to the supply chain director Zainah Ngugi” crystalises the purpose of the meeting; it focuses the seller to a specific thing and with this, he will most likely find himself customising his presentation accordingly. How will I open the meeting, for instance, and which objections is she likely to raise?

As they say, a problem well defined is a problem half solved. The second way it instils discipline is because the sales manager (just as with the salesperson) can audit the meeting.

You either presented to the director or you didn’t; you either got the referrals or you didn’t. If you did, then good; what’s the next quantifiable goal towards closing the sale? And if you didn’t, then solving this problem is not shooting in the dark; there is a trajectory that can be followed.

The third advantage of having a quantifiable goal is this; the senior executive with an interest with the sales team and thus asks for meeting objectives, can call the sales manager saying, “I know Zainah. Let me know how the sale goes and if I can help.”

Yet another reason why having a quantifiable goal is important is because the goal acts as a rudder. It steers the meeting in a particular direction; it brings it back on track when it’s drifting.

The quantifiable objective, “To establish the point of convergence between the client problem and our solution”, will keep the meeting in check. The seller’s questions will remain exploratory not decisive.

Does this mean that if the opportunity to close the sale presents itself the seller should decline, because it was not the objective? Of course not. Nonetheless, it will be a natural progression to the sale, not a lucky strike from shooting in the dark.

So, what’s the quantifiable goal for your next meeting?