Nothing replaces personal contact when you’re looking to grow your business or hit sales goals. Whether you are face-to-face in a boardroom or side-by-side in a café, those valuable hours in person with a prospect or customer go a long way toward kick starting or strengthening a long-term relationship.
Here are three ways to make your next meeting a success.
1. Be there in the moment.
Once a customer or prospective customer has gone out of her or his way to get together, you don’t want your technology to interfere with the personal interaction. A trusty pad of paper is a good solution for keeping track of what’s said, and it avoids the distractions that internet-enabled devices can lead to.
The classic pen-to-paper experience keeps ideas flowing and keeps you in the conversation rather than having your head buried in your laptop. Active listening ensures you tune in to the pressing business need.
2. Sketch out the bigger picture.
Keyboards are so ever-present, we forget that there are ways to convey information beyond words. Complicated concepts can often be communicated better with drawings or diagrams. And if you’ve ever been to a brainstorm or planning session, you know how handy it is to draw on the whiteboard. Visualization helps you improve and streamline communications.
As you and your customer or prospect chat about business needs or brainstorm ideas during your meeting, you can expand the discussion with drawings that are worth the prototypical 1,000 words. Visual learners and communicators in particular like to augment their notes with thought bubbles and arrows, circles, underlining and stars that expand the possibilities of communication. Quickly drawn flowcharts detail scientific processes; org charts clarify relationships and back up points of contact.
3. Retrieve, refine and share important insights.
We underestimate how fast memory fades. Though experts disagree about how quickly the memory of any given fact fades, most agree that the forgetting curve is steep, and much is lost after the first day. Writing things down with pen and paper makes it more likely you’ll retain information and be able capitalize on it again later. With notes saved from a face-to-face meeting and then updated with subsequent noodling on the topic, you can take action and collaborate faster, ultimately giving your client maximum value from your time together and ensuring you both come away feeling it was time well-spent.
The most valuable sales professionals don’t wait for their clients to ask for info or follow up with them after a meeting: rather, they proactively deliver insights and offer solutions to improve their customer’s business and bottom line. And note-taking isn’t limited to just capturing business points; it can also be used to quickly jot down your client’s favorite wine or sports team so you can send a personalized thank-you gift down the line.
A trade-up with no trade-offs.
Though outsourcing and automation expedite many transactions, top-notch salesmanship still relies on human interactions to deliver both exceptional customer service and foster client relationships. And our tools need to help us not hinder us.