How do you prepare for running 15 customer meetings in a day

Generic trade show stand with blurred zoom defocusing

@ Tweeter Linder 2017 – All rights reserved. Photo by iStock

Major trade-shows are hectic for Executives. To the point where customer engagements start at breakfast. Run through a steady flow of 30 minute meetings during the day. And finish off with 2-3 dinners, with one course at each location in the evening. In a situation like this preparation is everything. And execution is a team work. Learn what it takes to craft a day full of exciting meetings.

A one-page format with all essential meeting data

Two tools play a vital role in situations like this. A company-wide scheduling tool and customer briefing template. A long string of short meetings tests our ability to shift context fast. A job requiring all customer briefs to be structured in the same way.

At a pace of 15 meetings in a day, one page is the upper limit of what you can read before the meeting. Aim for one page with 10-12 points font for readability. Lock down the template early. Stress the importance of sticking to the original format. Be firm in the ask to sales team to stick to the defined template. and offer to change at next event when you get god suggestions for improvements.

By limiting the collected the data to one page you reduce the reading time for Executive reading. At the same time you increase the time it takes for sales teams to prepare the briefs. The latter contributing to an increase in quality for the brief. And a good brief can be useful for a quarter with minor modifications.

Six sections on facts stand out as essential

Everybody have an idea of what to include in a brief and how to structure a page. The six section below give you an idea what to start from. Leaving the challenge to you for how much to cover on each section.

  1. Basic meeting logistics – Time, detailed location and agenda points.
  2. Participants – Both customer representatives as well as your own team member
  3. Big picture view – lift yourself to an Executive perspective of your customers’ business
  4. Opportunities and issues – selected from your daily and recent customer conversations.
  5. Current business – current presence with customer and status of existing business.
  6. Key messages to convey – the most essential (p)art of your brief.

Focus your energy on the key messages to get across from start. And let the rest of the brief cover facts articulating the context around your key messages. A common trap is to analyze all in detail and miss the boat on what to say. Hence the coaching to start with what to communicate and work backwards from there.

Material prepared as hand-outs

30-minute customer meetings focus on conversations. Often in a format described “fire-chats”. Several hot topics addressed in a short period of time. With customer agenda and concerns driving the conversation.

If you decide to use presentation material, stick to a few standard slides you select from. Printed hand-outs are still great as a back drop for taking notes, if you use visuals.

The hand-outs can also be an unsolicited business proposal or a whitepaper. Something triggering your customer to learn more about what you presented. Expect customers to travel light, so limite paperwork. Butt aim to leverage possible reading time windows as your customer travel back home.

Create a runway to the next executive interaction

The opportunity to expose your customer to your executive leaders has high valuable. You can increase your customers’ confidence in your company on top level. You can use the meeting to drive progress towards important milestones.

Target a few key advances in each meeting. And you also have the opportunity to create a runway to the next executive follow-up. Think through what you want to get as actions or tasks as outcome from the meeting. When you are clear with what you wish for, it might come true.

Your imagination set the limit for which actions to aim for. An introduction to a new key stakeholder in your customer’s organization. A new insight about the customer business situation you have not been able to crack. An opportunity to bid for a business perceived as locked up for one of your competitors.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. Which template do we use for Executive Customer meetings – learn to master the layout of the brief.
  2. What is most essential to cover under each headline- be brief and focused on the essentials
  3. How can I crisp up our main points – assume your start is fuzzy from start with potential to end up crisp and clear.
  4. How do I avoid to dumb things down to come across to an executive – a common trap in Executive briefs.

Additional reading suggestions

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