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10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

10 Steps To A Successful Virtual Business Development Meeting

Virtual business development meetings have become a way of life for many of us.  Ensuring they are successful requires a well thought out plan of action.

If you are a business developer, client relationship manager, or a technical expert who is required to win business from both new and existing clients, then how you manage your virtual meetings is crucial if you are to get the positive outcome your job requires. Luckily, we have come up with a way to help you!

THE CURRENT CHALLENGE

With the majority of buyers and sellers working online, the pressure is on to make our virtual Business Development meetings compelling, memorable and ultimately, to motivate clients to buy.

THE GOOD NEWS

The good news is that clients still need to buy your services. We have created a simple 10 Step Plan to help you increase your chances of success.

1.Preparation

Before you start your meeting, ensure that you understand your audience. Do you know what each person on the call is looking for? Research suggests there are between 4-7 stakeholders involved in making decisions, so try to understand who those people are and where they are coming from. Rehearse the opening, particularly if you are co-presenting with a colleague.

2.Pre-call Engagement

What can you do before the call that is relevant, informative and valuable? Perhaps send a thought leadership piece on the subject you’re due to discuss? Or a video introduction with an agenda or discussion topics? Even at this point you are building relationships and showing your knowledge of your client’s world.

3.Technology

Take the time to get to know your video calling platform. Learn the tools, ensure that Internet connectivity is solid and have a contingency plan! If we have learnt anything about virtual meetings, it is have a Plan B if your technology glitches.

4.Be ready!

Get on the call a minimum of 5 minutes early, so you can check everything is working and be calm and ready when your clients arrive.

5.Introductions

Cameras on! Start the meeting by facilitating a who’s who on both sides, including each persons role in this meeting if appropriate. You want everyone to feel included and important.

6.Build Rapport

Take time to do the small talk at the start of the meeting – it matters! It’s all you have to create a human connection and we know that if we don’t make the emotional connection we reduce our chances of success by as much as 25%. Try to find common ground to help build those relationships.

7.Inform

Start the meeting by checking their time availability, explaining the agenda and how you see the meeting playing out. For example, are you inviting questions throughout or holding to the end? If you need to tell them about your organisation, do so but keep it short! This is not the time to go into detail about when the company was formed, the number of services you provide, how many offices you have. Keep your ‘corporate positioning’ short and sweet, no longer than 2 minutes.

8.Investigate

This is where to spend the majority of your time. Explore their world, ask good, open questions. Listen like you’ve never listened before. Be aware of the dreaded ‘professional pounce. (Read more about this in our 3i Meeting guide.)

9.Summarise and Inspire

At an appropriate point (with around 15mins remaining of the meeting) ask the client if it would be a good point to summarise your understanding of their situation, its challenges and any opportunities. Once you have the green light reflect back the key points, emphasise those areas where you sensed the biggest issues and concerns

10.Gain commitment

Bring the meeting to a close by asking the client what they see as next steps. It might require you to hold your nerve at this point and allow a short period of silence. Don’t worry this is perfectly normal and will put you in the driving seat. As soon as they respond they are involved in that next step.

After of all that hard work, it’s vital that you follow up in the next few days, ideally sending something that speaks to the discussion you had and will add further value to your client.

Our training is bespoke to each client – see our approach and how we can help your business grow.

questas steaming coffee cupTurning the listening up to 11!

Turning the Listening Up to 11 - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars
Now more than ever in Business Development, we need to listen to our clients to gain the insight that will help provide competitive advantage and close the deal.

Try our Espresso Shot Learning – Our 30 min live webinar to give your team the key points and latest thinking in Business Development and Client Relationship Management.

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Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Last month we delivered what would have been our two full day face to face classroom workshop in Key Client Management & Winning Work  to clients in Canada online. One thing we already knew – you can’t just take a classroom course and deliver it online, there’s so much more to think about. How do you engage your audience; know they aren’t distracted and know they are taking the information on board?  With over 20 years experience in corporate training we took the principles and tested on ourselves, our colleagues and friendly clients how best to adapt to get it right online. And those rehearsals were the best investment we could have made!

Here’s what we learnt delivering Live Virtual Classroom Training:

Engage with participants before they attend the first training session

  • Ask them how they’re feeling, get a sense of what issues are common. We sent a survey to uncover the key challenges our delegates were facing.
  • Arrange short calls with key stakeholders to get different perspectives.
  • Give your participants a flavour of what they can expect and what they will learn.

Set the expectations

  • Virtual training always starts and ends on time! Make that clear from the outset and reduce the number of latecomers.
  • Learning works when there aren’t other distractions. Set the expectation that phones are off, children are being looked after and the dog’s been let out already.
  • Make clear that there will be time for tea/coffee/water/comfort breaks but always set a clear time to reconvene.

Get to know your audience

  • Making those human connections at the start of the sessions is very important when you are not in the same room. Give people something about you as trainers and invite them to share information about themselves – game play is a fun and effective way to do this.
  • Make time for the informal chats towards the end of the formal sessions.
  • But equally take people offline if they have follow up that may not be relevant to everyone else…no one wants to be sat looking at the screen longer than they need to.

Plan your audience

  • Better to do more training sessions with less people than trying to get more people through in one go.
  • Your delegates learning is your primary objective so keep the number of delegates in a session to a minimum (max 12) and for breakout sessions even less (max 6).
  • As you would in a classroom assess if your delegates have strengths and weaknesses that will complement or support others in smaller groups situations

Keep it interactive

  • Check in with questions or reaffirm points if you think attention is wavering. Running a poll or quick interactive quiz is a good way to checking information is being retained.
  • Use Role Play. We were sceptical this would work but it turned out to bring the most engagement and deliver the best results.
  • Set homework. Especially if you are able to make it so it requires collaboration with others.

Managing Screen/Engagement Fatigue

  • Keep the content fresh and dynamic. It is not an over exaggeration to say we planned every minute of these sessions. At times it became close to a theatrical performance with audience participation timed to perfection
  • Your voice, facial expressions and your hands are your main communication tool so make sure your audience can see them. Ensure your camera is at eye level!
  • Use Visuals to back up key points – say it, say it again while showing it. Use animation with purpose. If you are going to make a key point or illustrate change in time, animation is a great tool but don’t over use it.

But we can’t stress enough the number one lesson….rehearse, amend, rehearse.

LIVE VIRTUAL CLASSROOM

A highly collaborative and interactive online training environment. Especially effective where behavioural change is an objective these facilitated sessions are designed for smaller groups.

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3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Historically we have delivered 80% of our courses face to face but, like many businesses, we’ve had to adapt to new ways of working since the pandemic began.  Virtual training has not only been the only way to continue to deliver our courses, we’ve also discovered another positive outcome – a huge reduction in our (and our clients’) carbon footprint!

No Travel

This month we were due to be delivering a large-scale training program to a Canadian organisation, to take place in offices in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver. We were preparing for a two-week trip of intensive face to face training, but lockdown came and, like many businesses, we had to adapt how we could deliver our training. So after much hard work (both by us and our wonderful client – WSP), we’ve been able to re-design our offering and are now able to provide a full training package for those same (in fact more) Canadian delegates, but all delivered virtually.

A by-product of this also meant we have been cutting back on ways we have impacted the environment. By simply moving our training online and negating the need for a number of flights, (both ourselves flying across the pond, plus client delegates flying internally), we have massively reduced our carbon footprint by 15.6 Tonnes! Then consider the many combined car and taxi journeys to get us all to our destinations, and the total carbon emissions is likely to be in excess of 20 tonnes (You can check your businesses own carbon footprint by looking at the free website https://www.carbonfootprint.com).

Save on Paper

We love a flip chart. Its traditional, creative, visual and replaceable. But as we developed our Virtual Training, we realised we could still use highly engaging ways to train delegates, using digital whiteboards, animated slides, breakout rooms, and a number of other ways we can keep virtual training entertaining and effective. Instead of paper handouts, we can email PDFs, surveys and emails to keep in contact with delegates post training.

This move to virtual training helping us to go paper-less is important. Printing takes up an enormous amount of energy and carbon usage. For example, did you know that 500 printed sheets of the paper produce approx. 2.08kgs of CO2According to Lexmarks survey findings in Europe, someone who works in an office uses an average of 10,000 printed pages per year, of which nearly 2,000 are not actually needed. The CO2 created from these unnecessary pages weighs almost 7.2kgs. When you also take into account things like training folders, handouts and printed PDFs etc, you can see that by comparison, Virtual Training mitigates all of this.

Reduced Food Wastage

Our virtual delegates will still need to eat and drink during a training session, but the amount of wasted resources is significantly less than attending a fully catered event. A study found that the UK wastes £13billion worth of food every year. When your learners only eat what they need his results in far less wastage.

Our training is bespoke to each client – see our approach and how we can help your business grow.

#WorldEnvironmentDay

It just so happens that when we came to posting this blog we saw it was World Environment Day. As individuals, as well as in business, we believe we are all responsible for understanding how our actions impact on the environment and look to find ways to change, to do better.

This pandemic has shown that technology does works to bring people together with a far smaller carbon-footprint than planes, cars or trains can ever have. We must embrace this.

Two experts engineers in protective helmets and fluorescent vests showing the construction site and building activities after the successful project phase.

Cross-Selling e-learning

Our free e-Learning module for Cross-Selling (no selling required) is an interactive introduction to best practice.

This informative and well-presented 30-minute course is certified for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Start now

Latest posts

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

One thing we already knew – you can’t just take a classroom course and deliver it online. With over 20 years experience in corporate training we took the principles and tested on ourselves and friendly clients how best to adapt to get it right online. And those rehearsals were the best investment we could have made! Here’s what we learnt delivering Virtual Classroom Training.

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Like many businesses, we’ve had to adapt to new ways of working since the pandemic began.  Virtual training has not only been the only way to continue to deliver our courses, we’ve also discovered another positive outcome – a huge reduction in our (and our client’s) carbon footprint!

How To Manage & Maintain Client Relationships in a Virtual World

How To Manage & Maintain Client Relationships in a Virtual World

Are you tasked with managing important client relationships whilst working remotely?

We ran a live webinar on 24th April attended by over 70 people, which aimed at help professionals who have the new challenge of nurturing client relationships during lockdown and beyond.

Here are the key points that came out of the session, and that you should remember when managing those all important relationships in a world where we are now having to adapt to working virtually.

What is your Clients’ Experience?

“In times of crisis, a customers interaction with a company can trigger an immediate and lingering effect on his or her sense of trust and loyalty” McKinsey

What we know is that how you react to the current crisis is crucial to your success. The Client experience (CX) in a crisis is vital part of this. McKinsey’s research tells that in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 – 2011 those companies who invested in CX:

  • Lost less
  • Came out quicker
  • Grew quicker in the upturn

Make it Personal

Make your communications with clients more personal. You should aim to focus on the person you are liaising with:

  • Keep in touch
  • Make it easy to communicate
  • Take time to understand their world and what has changed

“Ive learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou:

Think about rapport building questions in advance of the call (e.g. How are you doing? How is the lockdown going for you and your family? What are you enjoying about working from home?

Then use transition questions to move the conversation into business talk (e.g. How is your organisation facing up to the new reality? Where are you focusing your attention? What are your short/medium term objectives?)

Then really listen to their answers.

Focus on Understanding their Objectives and Challenges

Understanding what clients are looking for and their own objectives is vital. Take time to really listen! Watch out for words or phrases that you need to ‘funnel’ to further your understanding. Remember, showing genuine interest in your client is one of the pillars of a Trusted Adviser (Maister/Green). You can then use that information to be able to seek ways to help your client and their business, and the new challenges that they may be currently facing.

In summary, you need to ensure that you:

  • Empathise
  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Understand their objectives
  • Seek ways to help

Reap the Rewards

If you focus on your clients needs in these ways, with an acknowledgement of how we are all facing unique challenges, your reward will be that your clients:

  • Will want to stay with you and your organisation
  • Will be motivated to use you for other services in the future
  • Will become advocates to other organisations in your market

Interested in you or your team attending our next free Webinar? Drop us a line or follow us on social to see when to register.

Webinar: Managing and maintaining client relationships in a virtual world

Webinar: Managing and maintaining client relationships in a virtual world

Webinar: Managing and maintaining client relationships in a virtual world

FREE Live Webinar

Managing and maintaining client relationships in a virtual world

Friday 24th April 2020 – 12:00 until 13:00

 

Who is it for?

A practical and engaging free live webinar aimed at professionals that work in the natural and built environment.

This is for YOU if you are tasked with maintaining client relationships during the lockdown period and beyond.

Registration required, register here.

What will we cover?

  1. Everything has changed… or has it?
  • The principles or client management
  • Being a Trusted Advisor
  • Understanding your clients ‘new normal’
  • How can you add value
  1. Sharing views from clients, consultants and each other.
  2. How to strengthen relationships at this time.
    Practical advice on how to use empathy and structure the conversation.

Register here for live webinar on managing client relationships

 

Our training is bespoke to each client – see our approach and how we can help your business grow.

Two experts engineers in protective helmets and fluorescent vests showing the construction site and building activities after the successful project phase.

Cross-Selling e-learning

Our free e-Learning module for Cross-Selling (no selling required) is an interactive introduction to best practice.

This informative and well-presented 30-minute course is certified for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Start now

Latest posts

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

Training online, moving from the classroom and maintaining effective learning

One thing we already knew – you can’t just take a classroom course and deliver it online. With over 20 years experience in corporate training we took the principles and tested on ourselves and friendly clients how best to adapt to get it right online. And those rehearsals were the best investment we could have made! Here’s what we learnt delivering Virtual Classroom Training.

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

3 Ways Virtual Training Can Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Like many businesses, we’ve had to adapt to new ways of working since the pandemic began.  Virtual training has not only been the only way to continue to deliver our courses, we’ve also discovered another positive outcome – a huge reduction in our (and our client’s) carbon footprint!

Cross Selling: how to achieve growth by cross selling in professional services

Cross Selling: how to achieve growth by cross selling in professional services

Cross Selling: how to achieve growth by cross selling in professional services

‘Cross-Selling’ is the key to smart business growth but why is it so difficult? Questas CEO & Founder, Gary Williams reveals how to overcome the barriers and generate significant opportunities from existing clients.

What is cross selling?

Cross-selling is best described as ‘collaborating with other specialists within your company, working in partnership on behalf of the client’s best interest.’ It is a proactive, ongoing process designed to provide your existing customers with a range of your company’s services that will help them achieve their objectives.

Having worked with many professional services firms operating in the built and natural environment, we see many companies who are not optimising their cross-selling opportunities, missing obvious areas of growth in their organisation. Many of them have key client management programmes, with one of the measures of success being the number of services their clients buy from them. On average, supplier firms provide only 20% of their services to clients. There’s nothing worse than a client who tells you, “I didn’t know you provided that service, if I had I wouldn’t have given the project to your biggest competitor…”

On average supplier firms provide just 20% of their services to clients.

A client who buys multiple services is harder to lose to a competitor.

Cross selling from the supplier’s perspective

Existing customers are easier to sell to, by a long shot. You’re 60-70% likely to sell to an existing customer, compared to the 5-20% likelihood of selling to a new prospect (according to book of Marketing Metrics). So concentrating efforts on cross-selling makes sense. A client who buys multiple services is harder to lose to a competitor than a single service client.

A professional services company can also forge better relationships, moving up the ‘Trusted Advisor’ curve and ultimately being seen as a partner organisation who helps the client achieve their long-term objectives as opposed to a provider of commodity services who can be substituted at very short notice.

Cross selling from the client’s perspective

Managing the supply chain can be an onerous task. Keeping on top of providers, ensuring deliverables are met, not to mention procurement and tendering, this can be extremely time consuming and costly.

Our clients are human beings (in the main!) and one thing I know to be universal is that we live in ever more complicated, busy and often challenging worlds. We all strive for an easy life and if a client can trust a supplier to deliver more than one service, confident that “they know how we work and what our expectations are…” that is one less thing to worry about.

There are potential economic benefits as well. Clients can achieve their objectives in the most economic way. They can potentially reduce the cost of managing multiple suppliers and, hopefully, they can speed up projects by having fewer ‘players’ in the supply chain.

Clients can achieve their objectives in the most economic way.

Introducing our contacts to our colleagues creates strong, collaborative networks.

Cross selling from the individual’s perspective

Today’s consultant has to be the ‘rounded professional’, seen to be creating opportunities for other areas of the firm beyond their own. Our personal brand and value grows when we are able to refer a client to a colleague who’s expertise would benefit them. So being generous with our time and sharing our contacts should be something we feel compelled and motivated to do.

So if Cross-Selling is seen as one of the Keys to Growth, why is it so hard for professional services firms to be successful at it?

These are the most common reasons

  • A lack of understanding of everything the firm can offer
  • Inability to explore the client’s world broadly enough to uncover opportunities outside of technical disciplines
  • Poor internal communication
  • An unwillingness to introduce colleagues to our clients or share valuable relationships
  • Poor leadership
  • Measuring things that disincentivize cross-selling and drive the wrong behaviours

Even the most ‘non-sales’ people are able to learn how to explore clients’ worlds.

Five ways to encourage a cross selling culture

The good news is that there is plenty that can be done to counter these barriers. Here are some steps that we have found to be valuable to businesses.

 

1
Encourage internal marketing programmes and things like:

 

  • Lunch and learn sessions delivered by different departments
  • Attend different service line client and BD meetings
  • Use your Key Client Management programme to bring representatives of all relevant parties to the table (including those who are not currently working with the client).

 

2
Even the most ‘non-sales’ minded people are able to learn how to explore clients worlds.
They can:

 

Train all client-facing people in the art of exploring cross selling opportunities.

  • Increase the number of ‘non-project’ client meetings.
  • Encourage people to understand how to look for opportunities for ‘adjacent’ services.

 

3
Many firms suffer poor internal communication

 

  • The first thing to understand is that the mindset of people is the key to better internal comms – one that is open and sharing for the benefit of the client.
  • Systems and software – too many firms are still relying on spreadsheets. Investing in CRM (client relationship management) systems is a critical success factor. There is a health warning here… if the first step above is not in place, CRM systems become nothing more than an expensive address book!
  • Internal education, on a continuous basis, that shows not just what services a firm has to offer but how to spot opportunities for them, including what questions to ask to uncover those opportunities.

 

4
Building internal relationships is equally as important as it is with external clients and co-professionals

 

  • Encourage internal networking and social events.
  • Mix internal BD meetings with different disciplines coming together. This often works well in a sector strategy.
  • Use the concept of ‘roadshows’ to take the message out to the business.

 

5
Many firms expect people to focus on clients and cross-selling without offering any incentive

 

  • This is a leadership issue. Work on motivation, a sense of ‘doing it for the team’, rewarding through recognition and praise.
  • Hold an annual awards event – reward the behaviours and activities as much as the outputs.
  • Lead from the front. Set an example to your team.

How to Cross-Sell without Selling!

e-learning course on laptop on desk with workerOur e-Learning Cross Selling Module is an interactive introduction to best practice.

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Summary

  • So it’s obvious that not developing a cross-selling program in your organisation really is wasting a serious opportunity for growth.
  • Remember, it’s critically important that everyone in the organisation buys into the philosophy in order to collaboratively support the efforts of all. That includes leaders and senior managers too!
  • Companies that fail to implement an effective cross-selling programme do a disservice to their customers and leave the backdoor open to their competitors. Not being proactive about encouraging a culture of cross-selling is a missed opportunity for smart business growth. Check out our Cross-Selling Skills Training here, or individuals can:

 

Start here with our online training

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