How to run effective meetings with new client prospects
First impressions matter. In business terms, that means showing your best practices in your initial interactions with a prospective client. But, what does that mean in our hybrid working culture?
When you’ve chosen to forgo a physical office space or the requirements of wearing professional trousers (cue the pyjama bottoms & fluffy slippers), your “environment” has become the digital space where you meet, the background you show and the top half of your attire.
At Connect4, we help professional service businesses with that digital space – our “place or destination” (aka pod) highlights your brand, organises your pre-meeting work (agenda) and features your best self in front of a prospect. Given this, we are often asked by our customers and prospects how best to use our approach at the start of a business relationship – when a potential client has an initial interaction with their business – in a hybrid working world. Whether in person, on the phone or on a video call, the prospective client conversation from an introductory meeting can set the tone for how your relationship will develop when both sides agree to move forward.
We thought this topic required an expert’s point of view, so we brought in our very own Jon Oakley, Head of Sales, to discuss how he approaches his initial prospect meetings.
With years of experience in the app industry, Jon uses Connect4 in his daily SaaS sales work. We wanted to find out how he does this so effectively and also how our platform optimises the prospecting process for other industries too!
The secret to successful prospecting calls? Read on to find out!
If you want to unlock the potential of your client discovery meetings, start your Connect4 experience here.
What does prospecting mean to you, Jon?
Well, it’s quite difficult to summarise. I think that prospecting is really about looking for people who you think fit an ideal customer persona. But you also have to find out and really understand those potential customers’ processes and pain points.
They way I do this for Connect4 is: research and networking! There’s no point in cold calling — I do a lot of work on LinkedIn, I’ll email or look at Twitter. Forums are also great for discovering prospects. For us, I’m looking for small practices or firms with staff who really want to talk with their clients regularly. And they could be accountants, solicitors, lawyers, anyone.
I find out what those client-facing businesses are currently doing. Are they happy with their processes? If not, what are the pitfalls, what’s not working for them? And then of course, what are their clients getting from the meetings they’re currently having?
If they want to have a look at the platform, I invite them onto Connect4 for a chat. And it really is that – not a sales pitch or a demo. It’s a conversation. Because, ultimately, Connect4 has to be right for them.
What has prospecting (or the dirty word, “sales”) looked like in the past?
I feel very lucky to be able to demo and show people a platform that I’m actually using to facilitate the prospecting call!
My past experience of prospecting and demos used to be like so: if you were meeting in person, you’d jump on a laptop next to your prospect. On a virtual call you would share your screen. But it felt quite disjointed, because you’d have to make this awkward jump from having a conversation and then bringing up the demo.
With Connect4 it’s so much nicer because while I’m talking to prospects, they can look at the agenda, look at the minutes, look at the action items and resources. They can watch a Loom video in the corner while I’m initially showing them the platform. It’s a much nicer experience for prospects as opposed to what I’ve seen at other apps.
In terms of how others use Connect4 for their prospect conversations, what really helps in these calls is that your customer comes onto the platform and sees the agenda first thing. The agenda shows there is a clear purpose to the meeting, and that there’s a start time and a finish time. Previously, you would jump onto a video call with no idea of when it would end, you wouldn’t know who was going to be there.
The first thing the prospect is able to do on Connect4 is relax. They see that the call will end in half an hour, they can see all of the points of discussion. The platform lays out the purpose of that initial meeting. And most importantly, unlike other platforms, you can always come back and see the history of all of your prospect meetings, so you can always reference back to any point of the sales process.
What could your potential customers expect from one of your prospecting calls? What does it look like on the platform?
Jon gave us a quick tour of the pod he uses for prospecting calls. Check it out below!
Wanna speak with Jon and our Connect4 team about how to make your meetings more productive? We’ll get you setup in a quick 15 minute call!
How important is having a ‘meeting history’ when prospecting?
Well, for us, the businesses we’re targeting set up their clients on a time charged basis or a package. But actually something that our customers are able to do for their clients at the moment are catch-up calls. And then these are logged in your Connect4 meeting history. It’s just a catch-up call to find out how clients are doing, because it can’t be all about what’s coming in on the bank balance, it’s about creating a relationship with your client. So you can have full on agenda’d, noted meetings; but also you can have a quick catch up just to find out how things are. Even if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, it goes in the history. And again, one of the key factors of Connect4 is it helps with building a relationship. It’s not just about business meetings. It’s about becoming that trusted person on the other end of a video screen, you know, because if there’s a problem, they will want to talk to you about it and not always worry about how much it’s going to cost them.
The history of the meetings, it shows your value to the client, because it shows progression and that actually these meetings are moving forward. So it’s not, what did we discuss last time? What are we going to discuss today? But it also shows the accountability because tasks are set for certain people in that pod. They have to tick them off. So the next meeting, if they haven’t ticked them off, why haven’t they done it again? It’s about progression and accountability within the meetings.
What are your Top Tips for prospecting?
Workflow. My top tip is actually finding the workflow – and that’s not just yours, but also your potential customer’s workflow.
You need to find those pain points where the flow isn’t working and obviously working through that with the prospect, either go backwards to identify the cause or define the solution.
Using Connect4 as an example, the product I’m selling here improves a client-facing professional’s meeting workflow. In order to sell that idea, my workflow needs to be on point, and this is particularly at the end of the meeting. This is when I’ve got to review my minutes, assign the correct actions to the correct people and then I record the 60-second meeting summary video. This whole process creates accountability, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. Once you send all of that post-meeting information in the summary email, progression happens. It’s all about not having the same meeting over and over and over again. So that’s my real top tip: don’t have the same meeting over and over again.
How has the expectation of a prospect call changed?
Well, with the pandemic, video calls and a hybrid approach to prospecting is a given, it’s essential. Everybody is so used to using video platforms now – that’s why the video call element of Connect4 is sort of assumed.
It’s the other meeting features of our platform that can really help to facilitate a hybrid prospecting process. The key is that full meeting history on your pods. And if you want to use Connect4 in person, all you’d have to do is turn the audio and video off. The agenda feature and notes are still available and then of course your face-to-face meeting is still a part of the history. When you’re trying to build accountability and progression into your current workflow, turn up to a meeting with your laptop. Like you used to use your old A4 pad, get Connect4 up instead. Have an agenda that you can both see and then end the meeting and record it as usual. It’s about building a relationship and showing accountability, and that’s on both sides. So the client and their customer have to both do the action items. They both need to have written the meeting notes.
Do hybrid prospecting calls level the playing field?
Yes. Nowadays, you can be selling or you can be an expert in your field offering client advisory. It doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, everyone will be working from home sometimes. Therefore, you don’t need the outlay of swanky offices, a reception, a big meeting room. You just need to build your client relationships on the Connect4 platform. I mean, make sure your background looks nice! But with the ability to host up to 12 people, anyone can build relationships in this safe, accessible meeting space. Actually the ‘pod’ is an acronym of “place or destination” and that destination can be reached while online but also if you’re face-to-face.