The most common mistake I have often seen happening before one goes for the initial few meeting with a prospect is not doing enough research on client. Now this may sound counter intuitive to some seasoned B2B professionals but I have seen this lapse happening more often than not even by experienced sales professionals!

Investing time and effort in knowing client and his business has a positive impact on the whole sales cycle! It not only increases the chances of closure and reduces the sales cycle time but also allows to have a strategic perspective of the account right at the beginning. To achieve this just follow the following simple Three Rules before first Meeting:

3 Rules for 1st meeting are:

1) Research about Sector: This is the first thing one needs to do. Researching about the sector as a whole and having a bird’s eye view of it. Even if you already know about the sector do read the latest news about the sector before the meeting. Sector research will always give you lot of common grounds to talk with client, helps create trust of customer on you and allows customer to show his expertise once rightfully initiated about his own industry!

2) Research about Company: Next level of research has to do with the company that one is going to have a meeting with. Very crucial especially for initial few meetings where one is trying to build rapport with the client and also trying to understand the problems faced by them.

If you are a law enforcement agency and have all the time and authority in your hands to interrogate client from scratch then only one should skip this step. Else it is better to skip the meeting than doing it without having done research on client! If done properly this research will define the whole sales cycle for the sales person and will have a positive bearing even at negotiation stage.

3) Research about Person: The 3rd most important research that now a days has become possible due to social media is knowing the person whom one is going to meet. Lot of information can be gathered via Linkedin and Facebook especially about the area of expertise, experience, tenure in present role, hobbies and interests. This is very helpful in quickly getting connected to person and building a personal rapport with him or her. Knowing the background of a person allows one to tweak the pitch in a way that will be easily understood by the client.

The importance of knowing about prospect to my mind is the most fundamental step and lays the foundation for a strong relationship. We all know what happens to a building when the foundations are weak. Spending some time at this step always helped me save lot of time in the whole sales cycle. Try it before your next meeting to feel the difference! It wont take more than 30 minutes in most of the cases.