Introductory Meetings (FREE Sales Webinars)

by | Jun 6, 2024 | Sales Training

It’s not glamorous; in reality, it’s somewhat boring. Most people don’t value it. Sales directors never measure them, and aspects such as the number, the quality, and the manner in which it should be conducted is often overlooked and remains unrecognised by many.

Yet, the humble introductory meeting is the secret to all sales success. Why is this the case? You might think I’m a bit off-base, believing that the annual revenue is the primary indicator of success. However, to me, that’s not the most crucial metric. The frequency of introductory meetings, the caliber of the individual you’re conversing with, the manner in which the meeting proceeds, and the origin of these meetings hold the key. In this article, I’ll deconstruct this into the ‘why,’ the ‘how,’ and the ‘what now.’ The introductory meeting is:

  • The beginning of all opportunities.
  • The start of the relationship.
  • The outline of how the relationship will progress.
  • The guide into a discovery phase if that’s the appropriate path, ensuring it’s done correctly with the right people.
  • The groundwork for the next steps if the discovery isn’t the immediate path forward.

The first meeting is often dismissed in most organizations, not seen as a vital metric or a cornerstone in sales training and development. I find that staggeringly, 95% of companies are fixated on the final 40% of the sales cycle.

The stage where opportunities have matured, the revenue potential spikes, the sales director jumps in, the C-suite demands updates for strategic planning, and suddenly, everyone wants in. But this focus is misguided. It breeds a fragile sales model: leadership out of touch, business control slipping away, scalability left to chance, and in times of crisis, a dire lack of direction. The repercussions vary, hitting small, medium, and large businesses uniquely hard.

Challenges for Small Businesses

For small businesses, a poorly executed introductory meeting can be particularly detrimental. They struggle to establish a reliable channel because they can’t pinpoint which lead generation sources are effective. They’re left making guesses based on the sheer volume of leads and the conversion rate to meetings. Moreover, they frequently find themselves in meetings that lead nowhere, mistaking busyness for productivity without realizing that they’re merely busy fools.

The outcomes of these initial meetings are not tracked; there’s no strategy for conducting them, leaving everyone in the dark about what’s effective and what’s not. This confusion sabotages the business development model, rendering most introductory meetings fruitless and failing to pave the way for meaningful discovery. Often, especially in tech companies, there’s a premature rush to demonstrate products in the first meeting, a practice that’s far from ideal.

Challenges for Medium-Sized Businesses

For medium-sized businesses, the repercussions of a poor introductory meeting can be a significant roadblock to growth and scaling. You’ve made it this far by establishing revenue channels, but as you aim for expansion, the reliance on a well-structured, efficient sales pipeline becomes paramount.

Yet, many find themselves hitting a plateau, puzzled by the stagnation in growth. Is it the channel, the sales strategy, or operational inefficiencies? Initially, growth may have been fueled by a few superstars or founders, but as the business expands, the performance of the entire team becomes crucial. Ineffective introductory meetings can lead to a multitude of issues:

  • Your approach is still aggressively focused on acquiring new clients (hunting) rather than nurturing and expanding existing relationships (farming).
  • Despite your growth, your brand still lacks significant recognition; you’re a medium-sized fish in a big pond, and not many know who you are.
  • Your discovery process is flawed; deals aren’t set up correctly from the start, leading to misaligned expectations and inefficient sales cycles.
  • Your team lacks the bandwidth to manage a complex sales process. The pipeline isn’t robust or scalable enough, leading to cyclical growth and cutbacks due to cost constraints.
  • Similar to startups, you’re still in the dark about your most effective channels, with marketing and sales operating in silos.
  • When progress stalls, the lack of a defined process leads to a blame game, with sales pointing fingers at marketing for the quality of leads.
  • And many other challenges that stem from a weak foundation in the early stages of the sales process.

Challenges for Large Companies

For large companies, the stakes are high, and the impact of a poor introductory meeting can be quite significant. Sure, you have a strong brand and, in a demand-led market, companies readily buy from you. However, when the market tightens, and your brand becomes associated with negative aspects, particularly high prices, you face serious challenges.

Cost-conscious clients mean you need to have navigated the correct process meticulously to reach the proposal stage. This involves proper introductory meetings, often engaging three or four key stakeholders, followed by technical discovery, comprehensive discovery sessions, tailored demonstrations for software products, robust negotiation, and finally, deal closure.

In adhering to this process, trust is established, mutual understanding is fostered, and stakeholders gain a clear grasp of what’s on offer. The deal then becomes less about price and more about the value and trust you bring. Being the incumbent carries less risk. However, this all circles back to:

  • Conducting the right number of introductory meetings.
  • Engaging with the correct stakeholders.
  • Critically, asking the right questions to uncover real needs and align your offerings accordingly.
  • Leading to a well-documented discovery done the right way.

Types of Introductory Meetings

So, what constitutes a successful introductory meeting? Before delving into that, it’s crucial to recognize the different types of introductory meetings typically conducted:

  • The 45-Minute Chat: This is a more comprehensive session, allowing for a detailed discussion, understanding of the client but most importantly getting them to reflect.
  • The 20-Minute Chat: A brief, focused meeting intended to quickly gauge interest, fit, and potential next steps.
  • The Follow-Up Introductory Meeting: Usually lasting between 30 to 60 minutes, involving another stakeholder or decision-maker to delve deeper, reaffirm understanding, and solidify the relationship.

Also read: Why You’re Not As Good a Listener As You Think

Anatomy of a Well-Executed Introductory Meeting

Let’s deconstruct the anatomy of a well-executed introductory meeting. A productive introductory meeting typically follows a structured flow, segmented into distinct parts:

  • Research: Investigate the person, company, and industry. This understanding aids in building a strong relationship. Conduct this research about 30 minutes before the meeting, ensuring the information is fresh in your mind. Take notes for easy reference during the meeting.
  • Rapport: Building rapport might seem old-fashioned, but all human relationships start here. Some contacts may want to dive straight into business, but the quality of your rapport can significantly influence your success. Rapport can be categorized into three types:
    • Generic Rapport: Discussing general topics like food, weather, or global events.
    • Personal Rapport: Relating to what you’ve learned about them, like mentioning an article they’ve published.
    • Company/Industry Rapport: Talking about current events or trends in their specific industry or field.
  • Introduction: Keep your introduction concise, about 45 seconds to a minute, and smoothly transition from this into asking them questions.
  • Past, Present, Future Questions: Ask structured, open-ended questions about their current activities, past experiences, and future plans. This helps you understand the client better and stimulates deeper thinking on their part.
  • Present: Contextualize what you do, perhaps through a case study, a demonstration, or a few slides. Keep this part brief, around 3 to 4 minutes, but ensure it’s directly related to what you’ve learned from asking questions.
  • Summarize: Highlight what you’ve learned and establish the next steps. This is crucial for moving the conversation forward and is a skill that requires refinement over time.
  • Book the Next Meeting: Schedule another meeting, whether it’s a follow-up introductory meeting, a discovery meeting, or a check-in further down the line. Decide whether to keep them in your database for future engagement or to conclude that they will never be a fit.

Indeed, this streamlined structure of an initial meeting is straightforward, rooted in common sense, and, most importantly, it’s effective. It guides the person you’re meeting through a genuine, life-like process. The pivotal moment lies in the past-present-future phase, where you truly begin to understand the individual.

More crucially, it prompts them to reflect on their journey, their current standing, and their future aspirations. From this point, if there’s a natural fit and mutual understanding, progressing to the next step becomes a relatively smooth and logical process.

Common Pitfalls in Introductory Meetings

Where things go awry in introductory meetings can often be traced back to several common pitfalls:

  • Falling into Pitch Mode: Dominating the conversation with a one-sided pitch can disengage the client, making the interaction feel more like a monologue than a dialogue.
  • Failure to Ask Questions: Not engaging the client with questions leads to a lack of understanding of their needs, goals, and challenges.
  • Lack of a Structured Process: Without a clear process, the meeting can become disorganized, making it hard to guide the conversation effectively and systematically.
  • No Measurement of Effectiveness: Without a process, it’s challenging to identify what’s working and what isn’t, preventing continuous improvement and learning from each interaction.
  • Inadequate Progression to Discovery: Failing to transition smoothly into the discovery phase can mean missing out on understanding the client’s deeper needs and context. Sometimes, the discovery phase is skipped altogether.
  • Lack of Documentation: Not documenting the meeting and the insights gained means valuable information can be forgotten or lost, hindering follow-ups and strategy development.

Executing introductory meetings effectively is indeed challenging. It’s a skill honed through continuous learning, training, coaching, and reviewing. However, mastering this skill brings numerous benefits:

  • Improved Relationships: The better you conduct these meetings, the stronger and more meaningful your relationships with clients become. You gain deeper insights into their needs and establish a more substantial connection.
  • Informed Marketing and Business Development: Marketing and business development teams benefit by gaining a clearer understanding of which channels are most effective, allowing for more strategic and targeted efforts.
  • Enhanced Executive Insights: C-suite executives gain from this approach as well. With a clearer view of the entire sales cycle, including its average duration, forecasting becomes more accurate, and resource allocation can be optimized.
  • Empowered Sales Management: Sales managers and directors face lower staff turnover and enjoy more consistent performance. They gain a better framework for assessing issues and can provide more effective coaching.
  • Empowered Sales Teams: Sales professionals themselves stand to gain significantly. With a better grasp of the sales process from the outset, they can forecast more accurately, relying less on the elusive ‘big deal’. They can evaluate the quality of lead generation more effectively and even influence it. Most importantly, they can self-assess and adjust their approach as needed.


At 1000Steps, we’re revolutionizing the approach to sales meetings for companies of all sizes. We believe in empowering sales professionals, and that’s why we’re making all our training content completely free. Yes, you heard that right – all our courses, both in the learning system and live virtual training sessions, are now accessible at no cost, indefinitely.

This is your chance to master the art of constructing effective meetings, recalibrate your strategies when needed, and navigate towards a more structured, stable, and fruitful sales journey. Keen to dive deeper? Join us in our webinars for an exciting journey into transforming your sales process. Don’t miss out – this could be the game-changer you’ve been waiting for!

FAQ about Introductory Meetings

Why are introductory meetings important in sales?

Introductory meetings are crucial as they mark the beginning of all sales opportunities, start the relationship, and outline how it will progress, guiding the process into a discovery phase or the next steps.

What are the common pitfalls in introductory meetings?

Common pitfalls include falling into pitch mode, failing to ask questions, lacking a structured process, not measuring effectiveness, inadequate progression to discovery, and lack of documentation.

How can small businesses benefit from well-executed introductory meetings?

Small businesses can establish reliable channels, track outcomes effectively, and avoid premature product demonstrations, thereby improving their business development model and leading to meaningful discoveries.

How do medium-sized businesses overcome stagnation in growth through introductory meetings?

By structuring efficient sales pipelines and focusing on nurturing existing relationships, medium-sized businesses can address channel effectiveness, sales strategy, and operational inefficiencies to overcome growth plateaus.

Why is documentation important in introductory meetings?

Documentation ensures valuable information is retained for follow-ups and strategy development, helping in understanding client needs and refining the sales process.

Who We Are

Elevating businesses globally, 1000Steps offers expert sales and marketing consultancy services, empowering clients to reach further success. Our markets include Singapore, the United Kingdom, Australia, United States, Switzerland and Dubai.

What We Offer

  • Sales Strategy Consulting
  • Lead Generation Services
  • CRM Solutions
  • Sales Process Optimization
  • Business Development & Coaching
  • B2B Sales Consulting

About the author

Fraser Morrison

As the CEO and co-founder of 1000Steps, I apply my 33+ years of sales experience to help professionals excel. Specializing in sales process optimization, I'm committed to driving client success and achieving outstanding outcomes.