BD 101: What to Avoid While Getting that First Meeting

by Scott - No Comments

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“Before we hop on a call, mind sending over a deck or one-pager my team can review”

I get this all the time. Target partners and customers often want collateral on your offering prior to taking a meeting with you. It’s a filtering mechanism they use to spend their time efficiently.


I avoid sending material prior to a first meeting at all costs. Here’s why:

The person on the other side is going to look at what you send them and immediately draw conclusions about what your company does. From here they’ll quickly determine whether they’re interested in taking that meeting. If they are, awesome…proceed as usual. But if they’re not, odds are you’ve lost the deal and this person will magically become impossible to get a hold of.

When you send a deck prior to speaking with someone, you’re letting a PDF do the selling. Even if you have the best deck in the world, this is always less optimal than a dynamic conversation that enables you to collect data, build a relationship, and optimize the pitch.

When someone asks you for collateral prior to taking a meeting, you can say something like this:

Hi x,

Our product does X,Y, and Z and is best demonstrated live. More importantly, for us to really see if there is a fit here, I need to understand your current situation better. Both things shouldn’t take much time. Do you have 10 minutes to hop on a call over the next few days?

-Scott

Key elements of this email:

  • Limited information. The goal here is to give the least amount of information possible that still entices them enough to commit to a meeting. More information often means a greater chance they’ll make a quick judgement and you’ll lose them.
  • Reasons why a meeting is necessary. By saying my product best demonstrated live and I need to understand their goals before proceeding, I’ve further justified the necessity for us to have a conversation.
  • Limited time commitment on their end. Pushback on committing to a meeting signals that this person is probably busy and values their time. This is why it’s imperative to signal that a meeting with you will only take a small amount of their time. Everyone has 10 minutes.

Sometimes people won’t respond to this email. At this point, you’ll need to follow up with some heavier ammo. Sending them some more direct information (even a onepager) or concrete examples can both be effective strategies. The key is to maintain the necessity for you to have a conversation. You eliminate this when you show them all the rabbits in your hat, which makes maintaining some ambiguity effective.

When you finally get commitment to a first meeting, still refrain from sending them any type of deck you’re going to walk through during the call. It’s much more effective to do a screen-share and control the presentation, than hope the person on the other end is looking at the same thing as you instead of playing solitaire.

What I’d love to hear are some other strategies people employ to when asked to provide for collateral prior to a first meeting. Please feel free to share in the comments!

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