I had a business meeting in my office last night. Saturday night. The meeting started at 8 o’clock, right after a 2.5-hour dinner. There was no beer, no wine, and no alcohol at the dinner. This was business. And everyone wanted to be at their best. And did I mention it was Saturday night?
This meeting came about because I accepted the word of a 20-year friend who not only recommended that I take the first meeting, but also attended. A group of business people were trying to persuade me to buy into a software product that would help salespeople sell. More. Better. Faster.
The subject of this piece is: who grants you a meeting, and why. Like any CEO or entrepreneur, I only take the meetings that I deem are important to my company and me. My time is guarded. My time is valuable. These days it takes a lot to get to see me for an hour. I’m always open. I’m eager to see what’s new. But I tend to take meetings through third parties. Referrals and testimonials. Never from a cold call.
Think about how you try to make important meetings happen. Meetings with decision makers. Meetings with executive officers.
I’m going to share scenarios with you from this meeting – what happened and why it happened – so that you can try to correct, or at least upscale, the way you make an appointment with, and speak with, a chief executive decision maker.
Here are the four scenarios by which meetings occur:
Scenario One: The company CEO knew of me, knew that we would be a perfect fit, and chose NOT to call me because he knew that was the weakest way to try to get to me.
Scenario Two: The CEO had a salesman working for him who was a fan of mine and a business friend of mine, but he chose not to utilize that resource because he felt it would not be a very powerful introduction, and that I would turn the meeting down. (Correct assumption on his part.)
Scenario Three: One of the CEO’s best customers is a lifelong friend of mine whose opinion I greatly respect. The CEO asked my friend if he would set the meeting up. I got an email from my friend and a phone call telling me this meeting would be very worth my while, that he thought the CEO’s idea and product were a perfect fit for my business, and that I should take a meeting with him as soon as possible. My business friend indicated that he would like to be present at the meeting as well.
REALITY: I couldn’t turn the meeting down. I respect my friend. He was pretty enthusiastic about the whole idea and was willing to physically be at the meeting. I couldn’t say no.
Scenario four did not enter into this process. It is when the person requesting the meeting is a “bigger name” than the person he or she is asking. If Donald Trump called me on the phone and said, “Hey Jeffrey, do you have a little time to meet with me?” or if Warren Buffet called me on the phone and said, “Hey Jeffrey, do you have a little time to meet with me?” I would fly 5,000 miles to make either meeting.
Those are the four meeting scenarios.
- Make the meeting on your own – where you have to sell like hell.
- Create a weak third-party endorsement where the air of skepticism is still thick.
- Have a respected third-party peer actually set the meeting. This is a huge, neutralizing element in the selling process. And it worked with me in this case.
- You want to meet with them way worse than you want to meet with you.
Think about how you make your meetings. I know some of you will email me and tell me that cold calls still work, and that you make sales from them. But ask yourself seriously, would you rather have 10 appointments set up by scenario three, or 10 cold call appointments that probably took you 500 actual calls to get those appointments.
MAJOR CLUE: The stronger the relationship, the higher the listening factor. If you make all your meetings by scenario one or scenario two, the potential customer will still have a high degree of skepticism, and you’ll have to arrive with your sales gun loaded.
When my 20-year business friend walked in with this potential new relationship, I was listening to their every word, gave them my undivided attention, and followed-up with a Saturday night dinner, a late-night business meeting, and a deal.
The entire selling “cycle” was under eight days.
- How long is your sales cycle?
- How powerful are your referrals?
- How open are the doors to your prospect’s office?
3.5 How open is their wallet?
For a few more meeting insights go to www.gitomer.com and enter MEETING in the GitBit box.