Successfully preparing for a meeting can be just as critical as the actual time spent in the meeting. Sales-Link’s clients are busy, brilliant innovators, but although they are successful scientists, business developers and managers they may still require learning a few simple strategies to engage and warm up to their new Sales-Link leads.

At Sales-Link, our active database and proven processes laser target our clients’ lead generation needs. We cannot stress enough the importance of getting into the groove of prepping your team for your initial meeting.

Once a connection is made, it’s critical that your new lead is engaged and educated about your company’s unique offerings and proven results. To help you along, Sales-Link has put together this list of five proven strategies for succeeding at pre-meeting preparations:

1. Have an Agenda.

People work with people who make their lives easier. Discipline yourself to take time out of your busy schedule to prepare for your meeting. Take the lead role in prepping the attendees. Create an Agenda that you share with the attendees at least four days prior to meeting. Request feedback and notes, and adjust the Agenda accordingly.

By preparing properly, you will find the fastest route to closing your deal. Thomas Edison put planning into the best perspective when he said, “Being busy doesn’t always mean real work. The objective of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence and honest purpose, as well as perspiration.”

2. Do Your Homework.

Research is key to successfully prepping for any meeting. A quick Google search should give you ample information on the company and its employees. If you have a specific interest in what they do, try searching for specific things that you may want to know (i.e. recent media coverage — good and bad, retention of employees, investors). Be prepared to share the same information about your company should you be asked in the meeting. Your lead will appreciate that you did your homework and that you have a familiarity with the company’s recent news and history.

3. Be Social.

We encourage our clients to introduce themselves to the meeting’s main point of contact by sending a brief InMail message on LinkedIn. A paid subscription to a LinkedIn Premium Business Plus or Executive plan will allow you to send direct InMail messages to anyone on the service. Also be sure to send a reminder email a day before the meeting. In your correspondence, inform the contact that you look forward to meeting or speaking with him or her and encourage any pre-meeting questions that he or she may have about your company, its employees and products. If you are meeting about a company’s drug development pipeline that is focused in a particular therapeutic area, include any pertinent information that you think would strengthen your case for collaborating.

You can also read up on the company’s recent news and events by browsing its Twitter and Facebook accounts. Leading up to the meeting, you can get noticed for your good social media sharing graces by retweeting, sharing posts and commenting. Bear in mind, frequent social stalking can turn a lead off so we recommend that you keep your social sharing to a minimum of three actions a week leading up to the meeting.

4. Make Time for Small Talk.

A quick call thanking your lead for scheduling the meeting is worth the investment of time. It may lead to some small talk where you get to know a bit about each other. This may sound a like a dating scenario, but it really is very similar. Like any budding romance, you meet somebody, start dating, look for things in common, and then hopefully move on to a steady relationship. You should entice this person with something that attracts him or her to you, then continue to explain who you are and keep the interest alive. The same holds true for any marketer. Consider yourself courting your leads, enticing them with info on your company, peaking their interest, and maintaining contact.

Learning how to master the art of small talk can come in handy during pre-meeting correspondence. If you are given the time to build the relationship, nothing can be more awkward than frequent pauses in conversation. Alison P. Block, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Director of the Health Psychology Center in Little Silver, NJ, recommends that you ask open-ended questions. Learn how to have a conversation, and listen as well as ask questions. Ask your contact where he or she is from, then listen and respond. Share a bit about yourself as well. The conversation will casually progress from there. She also recommends reading “How to Talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything” by Barbara Walters. First published in 1970, this book is still a go-to resource for shy conversationalists eager to break the ice.

5. Keep an Open Mind.

You may have specific goals in mind when working with Sales-Link, but you’ll soon become confident that our team is looking out for your company beyond the obvious. Our experience is in setting up meetings where unexpected business has been generated. Examples include sponsors phasing out internal testing groups and seeking meetings with CRO labs to take over the work.

Keeping your needs in mind, but thinking outside the box, Sales-Link will encourage meetings that may be unexpected. By following the strategies outlined above and walking into your initial meeting with a positive attitude and open mind, you will undoubtedly forge relationships that guarantee successful business closings.

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