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Learn how an executive briefing can revolutionize your first meetings, setting the stage for a powerful, trust-based client relationship.

Imagine you have booked a first meeting with your dream client. You took seven months to acquire this meeting. This client is large enough to retire your quota early. You have heard that you need to create value for your client in the sales conversation, but you are not certain what that means or how to execute value creation.

Your client invites you to sit down, and you are sitting directly across from your contact. Because you asked for this meeting, you must open the conversation. You are auditioning for the role of new supplier or, depending on how you open the meeting, a potential strategic briefing partner.

How do you open this critical meeting?

  • Rapport Building: This approach will have you trying to create a personal rapport in the first few minutes of the business meeting you requested. Your contact is polite, waiting for you to start. Note: This is better to initiate after you finish the meeting.
  • Borrowing Authority: You may not know why salespeople start the conversation by talking up their company, their clients, and the success of their solutions. Because sales leaders doubt their sales reps have any authority, they point at the trustworthiness of the company and their solution. This approach does nothing to position the salesperson as someone who can help the client succeed.
  • Asking about Problems: Some salespeople have been taught and trained to ask questions about the client’s problems and their pain point. Having acquired the problem, the salesperson explains they have the solution. Unless it is your first week selling what you sell, you should already know what problems you solve and the implications on the client’s results.

None of the three openers above provide anything of value for the client. You need to capture their interest and position yourself as someone with the knowledge and experience to lead the client to the better results they need. There is a better way.

The Impact of Starting with an Executive Briefing

If you want to differentiate yourself in the first meeting, starting with an executive briefing will provide what the earlier ways cannot do. If you sell a commodity, the executive briefing will cause your client to treat you differently. If you want a faster path to becoming a trusted advisor, this approach will start you on your journey.

The first meeting will prove you belong in the room when your contact and their team decide to change and select a new strategic briefing partner. Failing to create value and position yourself as the best person to help with the change will end with your contact moving forward with one of your rivals.

Here is what happens when you open a first meeting with an executive briefing:

  1. Your contact recognizes you are already creating value for them in the first three minutes of the meeting. There is no reason to wait to create value later in the conversation.
  2. You project you are an expert and authority by having done the reading and research, adding a data-driven approach to bolster your experience and your knowledge.
  3. Using the executive briefing will have you starting the conversation about change. Average salespeople don’t address change early enough and struggle to compel change at the end of the conversation.
  4. Convert a first meeting to a second meeting. Because you wasted no time creating value, your contact will trust you to do the same in the second meeting. It will also allow you access to other stakeholders, as they believe you will stand out.

Comparing Traditional and Modern Sales Approaches

Let’s describe the first salesperson as a “needs something sales rep.” This salesperson needs an opportunity. “Needs something reps” don’t do well in B2B Sales, and they do even worse in a complex sale. They believe they create value by sharing information about their company and their solution. This is a legacy approach.

The second salesperson is a “know something sales rep.” We call this salesperson One-Up, as they have information disparity, knowing things their clients don’t know. This gap is the most important gap in sales, as it allows the “knows something rep” to create value. This is a modern sales approach, one right for the 21st Century.

Imagine the client is choosing one of these two salespeople. The client likes the first salesperson, as this salesperson reminds her of her favorite nephew. But because the client is trying to improve her team’s results, she moves forward with the “Knows something rep,” as they appreciate the real help they needed to understand how best to make this rare business decision.

Addressing Concerns about Executive Briefings

  1. You believe this approach is arrogant to provide an executive briefing. It is easy to avoid this challenge by opening the conversation by suggesting you want to share the trends and forces creating headwinds and inviting your contact to share what they are experiencing. Your contact is a participant in the conversation.
  2. You believe your contact already knows everything they need to know. Your contacts are One-Up, meaning they know more about their business. But you are One-Up on the line where you and your client meet. Because your client makes this decision occasionally while you help people with the decision every day, they are not likely to know everything you might use in your executive briefing.
  3. You might have the wrong trends or factors in the briefing. By using six powerful insights and sharing them with your existing clients to see what resonates with them. You can always remove and replace any insight that doesn’t create value for your contacts.
  4. You believe your client won’t believe your insights: There is no reason to worry about your credibility, as you will have cited every data point and insights. This work is worth its weight in gold. You prove none of this is your opinion or conjecture.
  5. You don’t know how to create an effective executive briefing: You can learn to create and use an executive briefing and change your relationship from sales rep to business advisor, but you will need to do the work.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on December 17, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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