By Todd Brian Natenberg
"That was pretty cool, I must admit," my current sales training client said. "I'd love my people to do that."
"Wow! That is the most professional thing I've ever seen;," my current client said. "Talk about organized."
"I still remember the first time I heard the comment to this incredible sales strategy I have used and taught for the past 20 years:
"I'm meeting you for one reason and one reason only," my telecommunications client told me back in my days at LCI International/Qwest Communications. "That e-mailed agenda you sent was awesome. I've never gotten that. I thought if you are that prepared and professional, I have to meet with you to at least consider your services."
So what am I referring to? What I call the P.A.L.- Purpose/Agenda/Limit.
Now, I know you top consultants (notice how I don't say "salespeople." What's the difference? Absolutely nothing, right?) will say they send an agenda before every formal appointment. But do you? I'm not talking about a loosy goosy e-mail or phone call before a meeting. I mean a professional, mutually respectful, agreed upon expectations and commitments to create a true partnership.
Here's how it works:
1. Pre send of the PAL - conversation prior to e-mail
This is critical. To utilize the PAL properly, verbiage must be used in person or via phone with your potential prospect.
You: "Terrific, John. I will look forward to our meeting Tuesday at 9 a.m. But as I don't want to waste your time or my time. They are equally valuable. Here's what II will do. I will send an e-mail confirming our meeting Monday by 12 p.m. If you change your mind for whatever reason, all I ask is you send me e-mail back or give a quick call. BUT if I don't hear from you, after I send the e-mail, you will see my smiling face (or if hear my smiling voice if it's phone/) on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Is that fair?"
What's key is that they agree with what you just offered. Sometimes they may not. If they don't agree, great. Then the appointment may be solid anyway. But if it's "cancelled," it's not a cancellation. Because it was never an appointment anyway. After all, why would anyone not love this respectful strategy?
2. Subject line samples:
- Agenda for in person meeting with TBN Sales Solutions on Tuesday at 2 p.m.
-Agenda for phone meeting with TBN Sales Solutions on Tuesday at 2 p.mm.
Simple, isn't it? Remember 99% of subject lines are read on phones or tablets today. They will only open the e-mail if they know what it's about. But they will open it. Why? You agreed upon it the week before.
3. Body sample:
Per our conversation, this is to confirm our appointment on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at your office:
(List address, phone number)
If anything has changed, please call me at 913-735-4318. However, as agreed upon, if I don't hear from you, I will assume no news is good news and we are on as scheduled."
4. Purpose sample:
-"Review the sales training needs of your company as it relates to investing in TBN Sales Solutions"
"Finalizing an agreement to increase your sales productivity through customized training with TBN Sales Solutions
This is a critical step. It shows professionalism, preparation, and how it's about them not you. If it's first appointment, great. If it's a "closing" appointment, so be it. If it's a "consider mutual networking opportunities," so be it.
This is up to you. What's your agenda? Is it to learn about them? Is it to present your company? Is this a first meeting, a second meeting, a closing meeting, a networking meeting?
Most critical part of Agenda? Last thing. For instance, at TBN Sales Solutions, last step is often:
"Schedule training dates."
Too bold? Why not? Big surprise, friends, they know you are there to sell- and that's a great thing. What is selling? Selling is helping. Be upfront. They will appreciate it.
6. Limit samples:
- 1/2 hour
- 1 hour
Be realistic. Don't say 20 minutes if you need an hour. Be diligent nd concise, but don't overpromise and under deliver. Reverse it.
Who will be there? List their names, their titles, their phone numbers- as well as your own. The more people that can attend a meeting (usually) the better it is. Yes, you don't want too many opinions stirring the pot, but if you have the entire decision making party in one room at same time, great!
8. Using the PAL at the meeting:
Here's what you do and say.
"Thanks for meeting with me, John. Did you get my e-mail? I brought a printout just in case. As I outlined,, here's what I want to do today. I'd like to learn more about your company and how I may or may not be able to help as it relates to sales training. Then I will share with you some potential solutions. If there's a good fit, we go from there. I have us slotted- as outlined- fore an hour. Does that still work for you?"
What do you think? I CHALLENGE you to try this strategy. Does this mean all meetings happen? Of course not. Do I get e-mails back prior to meetings to change agenda, change addresses, change times? Of course, but that's the beautify of it. It happens before.
I can count on one hand the thousands of times I've used this, showed up to the meeting, and there was no one there. And you know what even when that happened, I nearly always get a phone call back, an apology, an urgent family emergency as an explanation, and most of all a rescheduled meeting.
A "canceled" meeting that never should have happened in the first place is not a cancellation. It was never an opportunity.
The best consultants I know always know where they are in the sales process. No better way to know than to use your best friend: The PAL.