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Agenda Question

September 13, 2004
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THE AGENDA QUESTION

AT BEST, WITHOUT THE AGENDA QUESTION, MANY HARD-EARNED
FIRST CALLS (AND OTHER CALLS) BECOME “I’LL GET BACK TO YOU”
MEETINGS VS. CALLS THAT KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING.

By Linda Richardson

After six phone calls, the salesperson finally reached his client. The newly assigned salesperson was relieved to finally get an appointment to meet the client. For the past six months, this client had spent $90,000/month with his company.

Within five minutes of arriving at the meeting, the salesperson learned that one of the three products his company provided to the client, the one that made up most of the client’s $90,000 a month budget, was not fully performing. Moreover, he learned a top competitor had gotten in to see his client and was offering an alternative solution. A proposal from the competitor would be in the client’s hands later that day!

The salesperson took lots of notes and ended the meeting by agreeing to do an analysis and bring a recommendation to the client the next day.

On the positive side of this scenario, the salesperson was persistent and managed to reach and get to see the client. When he got there he identified the problem and uncovered the competitive risk. But, what he didn’t do during the appointment phone call was ask an Agenda Question. An Agenda Question is the question to ask once you secure a date and time to meet with a prospect.

Because the salesperson hadn’t asked an Agenda Question, he got blindsided by a serious problem. He was not prepared to begin to address it. This miss gave his competitor a time advantage.

Once you get agreement from a prospect to meet, while it is important not to let the phone call go so far as to substitute for the meeting (i.e., don’t talk yourself out of the meeting), it is very important to ask an Agenda Question so you can prepare and maximize the meeting.

For example by asking, “So I can be as prepared as possible, what topics would you like me to focus on?” or “What are the priorities that you would like me to think about in advance of our meeting?”, you can maximize any meeting — especially a first one!

Once the client identifies a topic (and many will), often you can take another few seconds to ask a few questions to gain a bit more focus so you can prepare more fully. And then always check once again, “That’s great, I … Is there anything else?”

At best, without the Agenda Question, many hard-earned first calls (and other calls) become “I’ll get back to you” meetings vs. calls that keep the momentum going. During a first meeting, of course you must ask lots of questions, but if you don’t begin to show you can add value, you may not get a second call.

Agenda Questions help you to accelerate the sales process. I think of the Agenda Question as a magic question. Place a post-it with “Agenda Question” on your phone for one week and see how much more focused and productive first and other client meetings are.

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