Nothing is more frustrating than prospecting all day long to find that needle-in-the-haystack potential client who finally agrees to schedule a meeting with you only to have them never show up. A close second on the frustration scale is when they do show up but dive right in with questions about specific features or pricing without even giving you the chance to ask the right qualifying questions.
I have a simple but very effective way of addressing both these challenges – The Shared Agenda.
Here’s the way it works. The day before a scheduled meeting with a client (regardless of the type of meeting – qualification, follow up, demo, negotiation, closing), I send them a shared agenda around 12pm that goes something like this:
Subject: Our meeting tomorrow
I’m looking forward to our meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am EST to talk about your sales training needs. In order to get the most out of our time together I’ve put together a brief agenda below. Could you review it and get back to me with what you’d like to add so I can make sure I’m as prepared as possible?
1. 2018 goals and priorities
2. Current initiatives to achieve goals
3. Specific components of JBarrows training that align with your goals
I only get about a 25% response rate on this with them filling in what they want to talk about, but those meetings are always way better than the ones that don’t. Then, regardless of whether or not they responded, I update the meeting invitation the morning of the meeting with the agenda in it. I don’t put the agenda in the initial meeting invitation because no one looks at those. But, when I update the meeting invitation the day of the meeting and the time doesn’t change the client is almost forced to open it up and look at the agenda.
When the meeting starts, I use the agenda to set the stage for the meeting and guide the conversation. Have you ever gone into a meeting with a mental agenda and then 5 minutes into the conversation they ask you that random ass question that takes you down the rabbit hole for the next 45 minutes only to realize you have about 5 minutes left to talk about what you actually want to talk about? Without an agenda they’re in control, you’re not. With an agenda you at least have a chance to keep the conversation focused.
Here’s my talk track on how I use the agenda to start off the meeting:
Thanks again for your time today. Just to double check, do you have a hard stop at 11:00? Excellent, we’ll try to stay under that. I’m not sure if you saw the agenda I sent over, but I wanted to make sure we got the most out of our time together today. Here’s a few things I want to make sure we cover (repeat the items from the agenda). What else do you want to make sure we hit on?
Add whatever they say to the agenda so you build it together. Then start going through the agenda topics. When they ask that random question you can then lean back on the agenda and say something like:
That’s a great question. Would you mind if we finish going through the original agenda topics that we both agreed on and if we have time left at the end of the conversation I’d be happy to address that?
In my experience, most of the time they will agree to stay on track. But if they don’t, then you know whatever topic they brought up is important to them so you should stop and dig into it.
I know this sounds pretty basic, but by implementing this into my process I’ve been able to reduce my no-show rates by about 50%. Try it out and let me know if it makes a difference for you.
Want more tips? Join Morgan J. Ingram and myself every Friday at 4pm ET for our Friday Happy Hour live chat.