The Sales Meeting Preparation Checklist

Sarah Leung
April 8, 2015

Whether it’s at conferences, on blogs, or in books, there are a LOT of people out there proffering sales advice––tips, tricks, strategies, tactics, and guides to closing more deals and crushing your quota. It’s certainly a subject that we discuss often here on the Handshake blog, but lately we’ve noticed that across the “sales advice” landscape, you rarely find concrete recommendations on how to prepare for each of those customer interactions. Sure, there’s talk of “building relationships” and “asking the right questions,” but what does a sales rep need to do in order to ensure each of their customer exchanges drives more business for both buyer and seller? For many wholesale sales reps, face-to-face in-store meetings are a relatively common––even routine––occurrence. That fact alone presents a huge opportunity: the opportunity to really differentiate your brand by providing a more value-add, insight-led sales experience to your customers than ever before. Here’s our sales meeting preparation checklist, to help you improve those store visits and have better conversations.

Sales Meeting Preparation Checklist

1. Check Customer Order History:

If you only remember one piece of counsel from this post, remember this one. Take the time to thoroughly look over your customer’s order history before each appointment. It’s a wealth of information, providing insight not only on what kinds of products your customers are likely to reorder, but also an indication of your upsell opportunities with new products or lines.

2. Compile a Curated List of Products:

This is more relevant for wholesalers with very large catalogs, which can be extremely overwhelming for a buyer. It’s become common knowledge that too much choice leads to more indecision and fewer sales, and sales reps need to help mitigate that problem as much as possible. To build off our first point, checking customer order history can help you compile a set of curated products for buyers to choose from. The ability to predict what buyers need and quickly provide personalized recommendations can be an enormous advantage and even lead to larger orders.

3. Educate Yourself On the Following:

  • Competitive Landscape
  • Product sales performance
  • Bestsellers

Knowing the overarching trends affecting sales in your industry, along with how products are performing at other retail stores in the same region is invaluable to your customers. Offering these insights can increase your strategic value in the eyes of a retailer, and create a “business partner” kind of relationship, rather than just a transactional one.

4. Be Sure to Have Updated Inventory Information––In Real-time If You Can Get It:

Two issues constantly on a retailer’s mind are: 1) inventory and 2) sell-through. Coming to a meeting prepared with inventory information will help prevent backorders (and unnecessary surprises), and keep your retailers’ shelves stocked.

5. Get the minutiae out of the way.

You shouldn’t be spending any time during a sales meeting going over details like a customer’s contact information, payment info, etc. Stop filling out paper order forms (which require you to re-enter this kind of information each and every time), and opt for a digital solution that stores all that information for you and automatically populates it in each order. Too many sales reps come to their meetings insufficiently prepared for the conversation ahead. Keep this checklist in mind, and set yourself––or your sales team––up for success. How do you prepare for sales meetings and store visits? Let us know in the comments!