Customer meetings in larger business-to-business opportunities involve many people throughout the sales pursuit. It is clear the presenter has to prepare for each meeting. But what are the key things all other participants can contribute with to make the meeting as successful as possible. This development area encourage you to work on customer meeting skills when you don’t have a speaking slot on the agenda.
During my peak years I have done more than 100 customer presentations. Providing a great opportunity to observe how my best colleagues work when I present. I have seen a clear pattern the best ones stand out in four different ways
- The best ones have prepared good questions and ask them during the sessions to get vital customer input.
- The best ones also think and generate ideas during the meetings, as a basis for upcoming meetings.
- Another common patterns is the art of note taking and the ability to put together good minutes of meetings.
- Finally the best ones branch out in quick white-board sessions to dive deeper into hot topics to assure we are on the same page.
The art of asking questions is too often undervalued. Having well prepared questions, and asking them when the timing is right add a lot of value to a meeting. Formulating your own key points into questions, allow for a collaborative meeting discussions. Most people prefer to communicate with you, over you communicating to them.
Innovating together with your customer is a fantastic opportunity to advance your business. It all starts with capturing needs and generating ideas when you have the chance to spend time with the customer. Make sure you are mentally sharp whenever you go into every customer meeting. Easier said than done when you have a half-day or full-day agenda together.
The price of your notebook tells how much you value your own thoughts. The art of writing ideas on a daily basis is almost forgotten in an era where we type or sketch most things on a computer. You might want to consider going back to a bit more old school approach and write notes for hand. Start to pay attention to what you write your ideas in. I see the following main options when deciding where to write down your notes
- A free black note book with your company logo – mix of customer meeting notes combined with internal meeting notes. No dedicated section where you write down thoughts. Tracking own action points and key messages by customers.
- A $10-20 Journal – Signal you are serious about your note taking. Notes up front and ideas starting from the back. Good ideas turned into customer engagement material when you are back.
- A >$100 Journal dedicated to customer meetings – A special book used for customer meetings only. When I see one of these in a meeting I know I have a colleague prepared to take razor sharp notes and x-ray analyses of insights gained. An expensive journal is likely paid by the writers own money.
A few suggestions on questions to work with:
- How much are your thoughts worth? – And are you prepared to show it to the world by carrying an expensive journal into customer meetings.
- Which questions do you have in your library of greatcome from customer questions? – A standard library makes it easier for you to prepare as you pick from a proven collection.
- What tools do you use to translate your ideas from notes/sketches to shareable material? – The best customer values come when multiple superstars collaborate.
For in-depth insights consider reading:
- Better customer insights, in real-time [BLOG] – by Harvard Business Review
- Customer needs should drive innovation [BLOG] – by Harvard Business School
- 16 noteworthy writing journals [ARTICLE] – by real simple, Life made easier
- Moleskine and Smythson [JOURNALS] – pick a colorful one.
- Whiteboard selling [BOOK] – by Corey Summers and David Jenkins
With these ideas I hope you feel armed and encouraged to capture the best customer insights. It will be the foundation for many innovations in the companies you will work for. Follow the dialogues on @TweeterLinder and hashtags #DigitalMentor and #SeasonedSuperstars