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How to get that valuable first sales meeting

By June 15, 2021June 24th, 2021Blog
Peter Rosenwald

Author Peter Rosenwald Corporate Lead Generation Expert

In essence, you just must be fantastic at these four steps:

  1. Defining what ‘a valuable meeting’ looks like
  2. Sourcing and managing prospect data
  3. Initial contact
  4. Pipeline Management
Step 1. Define what valuable looks like

If you don’t have something to aim at you can’t hit it. Defining the criteria on ‘what a valuable first meeting looks like’ is referred to as qualification criteria.
A well-used example is BANT (Budget Authority Need Timing). Your judgement on qualification criteria such as BANT is important. If it’s not tight enough your partners and business development directors may meet all sorts of the wrong people at the wrong time. Too strict and not enough of the right leads fall into your partners and business development director’s pipeline.

Over the years my company has moved from creating leads into smaller SMEs to targeting larger SME and Corporate Deals, where the value of the potential win is a lot higher. Prospects where the potential fees are in the multi £millions is now quite regular.
Within these markets we find that the criteria for a ‘first meeting’ is about the potential and the level of decision makers and not whether there is a need or timing, this is because the Business Development role is to set the agenda, create the need and interrupt the current flight path.

Step 2. Data on prospects (a portfolio approach)

It’s a costly and relatively new fallacy to believe that a prospective client must ‘show demand’ or ‘interest’ before you contact them to discuss an open and valuable meeting. Undoubtedly it is true that you will get a higher rate of return if the person you want to meet has ‘downloaded the white paper, attended the webinar, become a first connection on LinkedIn or similar. However, if you have set your criteria in Step 1 correctly you can then buy a data set where your message by phone will fall on open ears. If you only target those who have raised their heads above the online parapet you are in danger of making the costly mistake of missing out on a large part of the market, which through a simple phone call could be in your  pipeline. Data will therefore come from a range of sources. Internal CRM, bought lists, partner LinkedIn connections and more.

Step 3 Contact: Phone, Email or LinkedIn?


Phone, Phone, Phone!

Phone can be backed up by an initial email or LinkedIn message or connection request. However, a superb phone call certainly does not need that support.

The phone may not be the best answer for the smaller SME targets however for larger SMEs and Corporates the phone is king.

Rules on making the initial call

  1. Know your prospect, pitch the call and the person making the call at the correct level. A corporate decision maker FD, HRD, Head of Trustees, CEO or simply a business owner or wealthy individual expects to talk to people ‘like them’.
  2. Get to the point quickly (for example, that you would like to discuss a topic which you believe is of value to them because of their situation. And if it is of interest, you’d like to arrange a meeting to discuss in detail).
  3. Resonate with the person and the business . Establish the need and match the benefit In effect ‘what I believe this will mean to you is ……….. because of ( your particular situation).
  4. Listen to them to understand what type of person they are and adapt your conversation accordingly. Are they a people person, goals oriented, content driven or time conscious?
  5. Prepare for the hurdles.
    One of the reasons that professional calls are more valuable than emails or LinkedIn introductions is because they uncover and react to obstacles. Obstacles can be very simple to overcome such as ‘I don’t have time right now’. Which if you imagine in email terms means ‘delete’. Obstacles can also be misinformation or misunderstandings A quote I picked up from a recorded call, albeit a few years ago was by a General Counsel for a Fortune 500 firm who said to one of our telemarketing team, ‘Artificial intelligence won’t be able to reduce the cost of my legal team’. (email delete!) whereas our caller discussed the statement and after another 20 minutes a meeting for our client was arranged. Many meetings are organised as a result of effectively overcoming an obstacle.
Step 4. Pipeline management

Pipeline management improves the chances of getting that first valuable meeting  because: –

  • Well managed leads are more valuable as more of them close at a higher value
  • You will know the source and route to your most valuable leads
  • You can nurture until a lead is created

The basic form of pipeline management retains the prospects contact details, details of conversations to date, a date and notes on how to open the next conversation, along with a suggested method for the next interaction, which mailing list to go on (if at all) and most importantly the source of the lead.

NOTE on what to talk about next time and a date and suggested method for the next interaction. Here are some example from notes I found in our CRM.

  • Paul’s key concern is global mobility of top 200 execs. Before next call email ‘The future of exec mobility’.
  • Their main push for 21/22 is the ESG Fund. In the next call focus on discretionary fund managers at last coming off the fence about ESG returns.

Progressing pipeline management to the next stage requires time and resources, scoring leads to ensure that they are front of mind and part of your reporting. Oversight from senior management is necessary. Your team members who will get the greatest output from oversight are those who are middle ranking bread winners. In law firms / accountants this oversight should be the domain of Department Heads or Office Managing Partners and not a Junior Marketing Manager (which unfortunately is often the case).

To conclude, in our experience consistently well considered lead generation can have a huge impact on client acquisition. It’s simply a skill to be learned in the same manner as any other. If you have any thoughts or views on how your own lead generation and pipeline management is going we’d love to hear from you.