Often we’re so focused on the goal of setting up a meeting that we overlook how to end a meeting. But in sales, I can assure you, the money is in the follow-up. How you end and follow-up from a meeting will be the ultimate determinants of your success.
That’s why we’re concluding the #SalesMeetings series on Modern Sales with an episode on concluding your sales meetings. Throughout this series, we’ve been discussing the science behind good (and bad) meetings. See them all in the show notes below.
Today I’ll share how to follow through on sales meetings so you’re set up for success, the importance of repetition, and a template you can use to close every meeting.
The power of permission, repetition, and agreement
- The psychology behind using this trinity in the closing moments of a meeting and the follow-through will change the way you do sales. I dive into the science behind this in this episode. The gist is asking your clients for permission and agreement throughout the sales process leads to them feeling engaged, in control, and more inclined to continue saying “yes.” Where repetition is one of the best tools for helping your clients internalize and remember the information you give them.
How to end your meetings
- For one, always end on time. It sends the message that you respect everyone’s time. And if you’ve covered everything in a meeting, end it early! I’ll present a simple process that you can use as a template to end every meeting: summarize, decide, follow through. I’ll cover the dos and don’ts of each step in-depth in the episode.
How to follow through after meetings for success
- Follow-through is where the real meeting magic happens. After all, it’s the actions following the meeting that matter most. So, follow through on whatever you promised you’d do, including sending an email summary from your CRM so the conversation and decisions are well-documented.
#SalesMeetings: Why Bad Meetings Are Killing Your Numbers
#SalesMeetings: What to Do Before Every Meeting to Make It a Success
#SalesMeetings: How to Run a Great Meeting
The Surprising Science of Meetings by Steven Rogelburg
Logan Nickelson at Music For Makers
For more information on remote selling and a complete list of links mentioned in this podcast, visit this remote selling article on our website.
#SalesMeetings: Successfully Ending a Your Sales Meetings:
Here’s something you might not know about the song Yesterday by The Beatles. It came to Paul McCartney in a dream. It’s been covered 2,200 times. It was voted top song of the 20th century by both Rolling Stone and MTV, and it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. And we’re not done yet. It’s estimated that Yesterday, one single song, was performed over 7 million times in the 20th century alone.
Now, we like to think of musicians as mad geniuses, right? How could one person do this by themselves or a small group of people do this, the Beatles? But here’s what you may not know about the song Yesterday. It’s not a work of genius, and it didn’t come from a single moment of inspiration. Sure, genius and inspiration are parts of the story, but relatively small parts in comparison to the larger truth. And the truth behind Yesterday is so unsexy that I hate to ruin the magic trick, but here it goes. The real story behind Yesterday is hard work.
It’s not exactly true that the song came to Paul McCartney in a dream. It was just the melody that came to him, and he eventually turned that melody into a song which was titled Scrambled Eggs. The working opening verse was, and I quote, “Scrambled eggs. Oh my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs.” According to John Lennon, the song was around for months before they completed the arrangement and ditch the Scrambled Eggs title. They worked on and tweaked the song in dozens of recording sessions before it finally became the famous song we now know. Lightning struck when the melody came to Paul McCartney in a dream, sure. But it wasn’t a song until months of hard work were put into completing it. If there were a movie about the making of the song Yesterday, it would be a boring one filled with bad ideas, throwaway lyrics, and blank stares at a blank page.
Successful selling isn’t a lightning strike either. In fact, just like the work it took to make Yesterday a great song, it’s the follow-through that’s just as important as the initial idea. In this episode of Modern Sales, I’ll tell you how to follow through on your sales meetings so you’re set up for success, the importance of repetition during and after your meeting, and give you a template for how to close out your meetings every time.
Welcome to Modern Sales, a podcast for entrepreneurs, business owners, and salespeople looking to have more and better conversations with your perfect clients. You’ll get a healthy scoop of psychology, behavioral economics, and sales studies to help you create win-win relationships. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, and I’m pleased to welcome you to Modern Sales.
Welcome once again to the Sales Meeting series here on Modern Sales where we’re about the science behind good and bad meetings. I’m your host, Liston Witherill, founder and creator of liston.io. Now, we’ve already covered why so many meetings are so bad, as well as how to plan for and execute your meetings. Each of the episodes in this series starts with the hashtag sales meetings at the beginning of the title, so just go back in your feed if you want to start from the beginning.
But right now, I want to tell you one small, tiny, minuscule thing that you can do to secure buy-in from your clients every time. Because you want to secure buy-in every time, and I want you to secure buy-in every time. That’s after this short break.
Repetition. That is the tiny little tweak that you can make in your process for ending and following up on your meetings. Repetition. It’ll help you secure buy-in, solidify your client’s pain and their desired outcomes and cement the permission and trust. So crucial to every sale. Repetition is the key.
Now, we’ve talked about the problem with meetings. We’ve talked about how to plan for them and how to execute them. But when it comes to ending meetings, the problem that I see is we’re so focused on getting meetings in the first place that we forget something important. The work isn’t in the meeting itself. Sure the meeting is a necessary step toward the sale, but it’s just a way to exchange information and make decisions. So the problem comes in putting too much emphasis on the meeting and not enough on what happens after. And of course it’s because getting meetings is hard and our brains are attuned to novelty. But I assure you that in sales the money is in the follow-up. So today, I’m going to propose a system, a simple process for closing out your meetings and following up afterward.
A quick note about the series. As I’ve told you in all of these episodes, this series is largely based on the book, The Surprising Science of Meetings: How You Can Lead Your Team to Peak Performance. The book is linked below in the show notes with my Amazon affiliate link. Go ahead and buy it if you want to learn more. It has a lot more information than I can cover in this podcast. But I will tell you that in this particular episode I am covering a lot of things that are not in the book.
Now, when it comes to the psychology of what I’ll be recommending today, they are really three big things that I’m looking at. Number one is the power of permission. Number two is the power of repetition, as I’ve mentioned. And number three is agreement. So let’s start with permission.
There’s nothing more powerful in selling than receiving permission from our clients to sell to them, which is why we ask our clients for their permission all throughout the process, and I have lots of targeted ways that I suggest you do that. But you’re asking for permission to summarize. You’re asking for permission to ask questions. You’re asking for permission to seek a decision from your client and on, and on, and on. But when we receive permission from our clients, it means they’re in control. And the power of that autonomy we’re giving them, that locus of control that they have, it’s absolutely huge. We want to put the client in the driver’s seat so much as possibly. Obviously, our goal is to serve, not sell. Part of our service, though, is to show them how to buy stuff from us or with us, right? Or in this market in general. So we still have to do that, but all along the way we’re asking for permission to give advice, to give guidance, to reveal insights, to do what we need to do in order to help our client reach a buying decision.
Then there’s repetition. You may or may not notice on this podcast but I repeat myself a lot. I do it consciously, and I do it because it helps you learn. In fact, the most powerful memorization tool is something called spaced repetition. It means you retain more information when you space your learning sessions over days or weeks instead of in a single cram session. If we’re serving our clients, ultimately, we’re telling them a story about change and the success that will come with it, a story they have to learn and internalize, and repetition helps with that.
And of course, when it comes to repetition, less is more. We want to keep the sale. We want to keep our summaries. We want to keep all of the things we’re doing throughout the process as simple as we possibly can because less is more. Less is more memorable. Less is more manageable. And less it’s more measurable.
And finally, the last little bit of psychology that I want to hit on as we’re closing out our meetings is agreement. Now, this is very closely aligned with the point about permission, which is we want to give our client as much control as we can in the process. I’ll give you the template for ending and following up with meetings next, but just know the importance of receiving agreement on what’s going to happen at every step of the way. Because when you get agreement, your client will be inclined to stay consistent with that verbal agreement. It doesn’t always happen, but usually the overwhelming majority of cases they’re more likely to remain consistent if you receive agreements at each step of the way. It’s one of the most important things you can do to keep your client engaged in the process and make sure you’re talking to someone who actually wants to be engaged in the process.
Now, I’ve covered this before on the podcast, but there’s a fantastic book called Influence by Robert Cialdini, and consistency is one of the six levers you can pull to be more persuasive, to be more influential. Which is to say if we can get little micro agreements from our client along the way, they’re going to be more consistent with their engagement in the sales process.
So here’s what to do. What follows is my advice on how to conclude your sales meetings with clients and what to do after in order to follow up effectively. Now, I should note that most of these things apply to internal sales meetings you’re having or one-on-one coaching and training sessions, whatever it is, but what follows is my advice for how to close a sales meeting with a client.
Number one, end the meeting on time. I’m going to get to the overall template, but the first thing that’s really worth saying is make sure you end the meeting on time. Now, this comes from that book I mentioned already, The Surprising Science of Meetings. And it’s so important to end your meeting on time because it shows that you’re being conscientious of the value of the other person’s time. You’re planning your meeting like a professional. You’re conducting your meeting like a professional. And look, end it early if you’ve already covered everything. There’s no sense in going on for a full 30 minutes if you could go on for 20 or 15 even. There’s no reason for that meeting to carry on longer than it needs to.
But here’s the basic template for ending your meeting and following up: summarize, decide, and follow through. I’ll say that one more time. Summarize, decide, and follow through. So the first thing I want you to do as the meeting is coming to a conclusion, so just to give you a little bit more detail, if it’s a first call with someone and you allocate 30 minutes for these calls, you’re going to do this around the 25, 26 minute mark. If you have an hour-long call, you’re going to do this around the 55 minute mark, so around five minutes before the end of the meeting, depending on how complicated and how many people are involved. If it’s an hour, you may want to allocate 10 minutes for your summary and closing out. But let’s just say 5 to 10 minutes to give you enough time to do this.
So you’re going to close with a summary. You’ll go over your understanding of what was covered and you’ll just hit the major bullet points. So if you were to take notes during the meeting, what are those main things that you wrote down about what you understand about the client, their situation? What piqued their interest from what you said? What are the business drivers that they’re looking at? Whatever it was, whatever the contents of that conversation, if you could break that down to around five bullet points, that’s what I want your summary to be.
The template for that summary, other than the five bullet points, is to say something like, “What I’d like to do now is just summarize what I understood from our conversation. Is it all right if I do that?” You’re getting permission. They’ll say yes. You’ll do your five bullet points, and then you’ll close by saying, “Was that about right? Is there anything you’d like to add or change?” So you’re going to get confirmation on the summary. Did I get it right? And you’re going to obtain agreement from your client whether or not that summary was correct. Of course, you may have missed something and you can think of it later. Maybe your client comes on to some new information afterwards. But basically, for the purpose of that meeting, as long as you can summarize the main things you covered, that’s what’s going to be in your summary, and then you’re going to obtain agreement from your client.
The next thing is to decide. So in my opinion, there aren’t a lot of good reasons to have a meeting, meaning we’re going to show up in the same place and talk about something together. The main reason to do it is to build rapport and affinity for each other, to build trust, to exchange information that couldn’t be exchanged otherwise, and to make decisions. I always want to end the meeting making the necessary decision. So I told you in those past episodes, one of the things you really need to know going into these meetings is what is the goal of the meeting. And one of those goals should be a client making a decision one way or the other, or you making a decision one way or the other. Maybe your decision is I don’t want to work with this person or this company. Maybe your decision is now’s not the right time or whatever it is. It doesn’t really matter. But a decision must be made. So every meeting should end with a decision.
Here’s some types of decisions that can be made. Should we talk again? If you have multiple meetings in your sales process, which if you’re listening to this podcast you probably do, then you’re going to have to make a decision at the end of at least the first meeting. Should we continue to talk? Another one, who else should we bring into this conversation? What are you going to do after we talk? Is there additional information that you can send or provide to clients? Do you need to create a proposal? Whatever it is, the decision needs to be made so that everyone agrees on what happens next and has a roadmap for the sale to come to a conclusion.
Now, one note here, get your tech in order. What I mean by that is if the decision at the meeting is to meet again at some point in the future, I want you to schedule that meeting before you hang up the phone. You’re going to pull out your calendar and start giving some dates for when you can meet with your client again. So you may do this already. But if not, I’m telling you, literally, I have Google Calendar up on my screen and I’m asking them, “When can you meet? One week from now? Two weeks from now? Morning or afternoon? What day of the week?” And I’m going to send them a calendar invite to at least hold the place on the calendar and give us a concrete next step in order to move things forward. So that’s the decide step. Make the necessary decision with your client.
And finally, follow through. This is what you do after the meeting. There are two things you should always do on your follow-through. One, send an email summary of everything you discussed and decided and do it through your CRM. Please do it through your CRM. That way you have the information saved forever in your CRM and it’s sent to your client. They have it, too, without having to double up your work or do anything unnecessary.
Secondly, do what you say you’re going to do, whatever it was at the end of the previous conversation. If you owe your clients some information or collateral, send it. If you’re to follow up with them in two weeks after they have a meeting or internal discussion, do it. If you have to pick the conversation up in three months because now’s not the right time and maybe next quarter is, do it. Make sure you do that. Follow through on these meetings. It is hard to get new conversations with new people, and it is really easy to screw them up and blow it because you don’t follow through. This, my friend, is where a lot of people struggle.
So if you’re in an active opportunity, the follow-through is a lot more obvious. If you have a relatively simple kind of sales process, you usually have an opening call, a second call where you’re presenting, maybe a negotiation or contractual call, and then you’re signing an agreement and moving forward. That’s all. That’s really easy, right? You can do that. I can do that. What’s hard is when things aren’t so smooth. And in many cases, depending on the source of your leads, in many cases, they are not so smooth. So going back to the whole template, right? This is what brought us here. When you close your meeting, you’re going to summarize what you understand and then you’re going to prompt for a decision or you’re going to make a decision yourself. Obviously you can’t decide for your client. But whatever the summary includes and whatever the decision is, we know that some follow-through will be necessary. So just do the follow-through please. That’s where the money is in sales. People who have their follow-through dialed in will win at this game.
So that, my friend, is my template for closing and following up on a meeting. And here are the key takeaways from today’s episode. We get so focused on just getting the meeting that we forget it’s the result of the meeting that matters the most. And there are three things to secure in the closing moments of the meeting and the follow-through: permission, repetition, and agreement. Ending the meeting on time tells everyone that you respect their time and you can even end it early. Yeah, you can do it if you’ve covered everything. Concluding a meeting means you’ll summarize, decide, and follow through. Summarize what you’ve learned and what’s happened during the meeting. Decide on next steps, if any, who’s responsible for them and by when, and follow through on whatever you promised you do, including an email summary from your CRM so the conversation all decisions are well documented.
We’ve done it. That is it for the Sales Meeting series on Modern Sales. Next week, I’ll be kicking off a short mini series. I’m going to try something new called Buyer Insights where I’m bringing you three interviews with actual buyers who talk about their buying process. What I’d like to do with this series is rather than me telling you how to sell, I want buyers to tell us how they buy. These are all people who work in relatively large companies or have bought in relatively large companies, and they’re going to reveal their buying process at every step of the way. So I’m really excited about this, and that’s going to start next week.
If you aren’t already subscribed to this podcast, please do so. Just click the subscribe button in Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or however you’re listening to this right now. You can also get notified of all podcasts episodes with behind-the-scenes info as well as other exclusive sales content I put out by signing up for the newsletter at liston.io/newsletter. It’s totally free. It’s linked in the show notes.
And thank you to everyone who makes this podcast possible. We’re produced by Tess Malijenovsky. Juan Perez is editing. And Mary Ann Nocum is our show assistant. Our show theme and ad music is produced by me, honestly, Liston Witherill on my own iPad, and show music is by Logan Nickleson at Music for Makers. Thanks so much for listening. I’m Liston Witherill of Serve Don’t Sell, and I hope you have a fantastic day.
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