How to Pack Your Briefcase for a First Sales Call

5 Things You Must Bring... and One to Leave at Your Office

It’s finally time to leave the office and head for that first meeting with a direct prospect. You’ve done your research and confirmed the appointment. What should you bring to the call?

Choose sales materials for your briefcase carefully

Photo by Minerva Studio

There are five things you absolutely must have at the first meeting. And one thing you probably have with you that belongs back at the office. 

I’ll start with the thing you should leave at your office: your radio or television station’s Media Kit.

Leave the Media Kit pages on the big shelf. Stick the thing in a drawer. Burn it if you must. But do not bring it to a first meeting with a direct prospect.

Here’s why your Media Kit has no place on a first call: it was written by someone who has never met the client and knows nothing about them.

The Media Kit is about you. The client doesn’t care about you. The client cares about… the client.

That’s what the first meeting needs to be all about. 

Leave the packages and the rankers back at the office. You won’t need them today. This is about gathering information and positioning yourself for the presentation.

So only bring things that allow you to focus on the customer. Here are the five essentials

  1. A notepad. You must take notes. It shows respect for the client, and it’s crucial to making sure you remember the most important things you learn. You can have a legal pad, a reporter’s notebook or a Moleskine — whatever makes you comfortable. I take my notes on an iPad with a Brydge external keyboard. When the meeting’s over I upload the notes to Evernote, so that I can access them on my phone or computer. But I always bring paper as a backup in case the device crashes.
  2. A pen. I feel silly mentioning this, but I’ve sat next to enough salespeople who had to ask the client for a pen that I’ll include it here. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring two, in case you run out of ink.
  3. Business cards. Bring extras — you never know who’ll be in the room with you. And make sure you get cards from everyone you meet.
  4. A list of questions you plan to ask. The list will keep you on track, and will make sure you don’t forget to ask something crucial. You are free to ask questions that aren’t on the list.
  5. Your appointment calendar. You’re going to want to schedule a follow-up meeting at the end of your conversation. The most efficient way to set that appointment is to do it when you’re sitting in the client’s office. They’ll have their calendar, so bring yours.

Finally, write down a a preliminary dollar goal for the account, and an objective for the meeting you’re about to have. In The Perfect Close: The Secret To Closing Sales, James Muir calls these the Sales Objective and the Call Objective.

Muir defines the Sales Objective as “the revenue (or outcome) you anticipate generating by closing this particular opportunity with this particular client.”

Muir has this advice on choosing a Sales Objective:

A well­ defined sales objective includes the following:

  1. It is related to a specific product or service.
  2. It is specific and measurable.
  3. It has a specific target date for completion.
  4. It should be realistic from the client’s perspective.”

A preliminary Sales Objective could be something like, “I plan to have this client agree to invest $48,000 over 12 months on our broadcast and digital tools. My objective is to close the sale within three weeks of today, and have them on the air by April 15.”

Before your first meeting, you’ll be guessing, and you’ll probably make an adjustment after you know more about the customer, their needs and their resources.

You may not have a specific product in mind until the meeting’s over. That’s okay — it’s a starting point, and over time it will be instructive to compare your initial objectives and the final outcomes.

Since it’s unlikely that you’ll close a deal on your first meeting, the second part of the process is to write down a Call Objective — defined by Muir as “an advance or commitment that is the desired outcome of this particular sales encounter with this particular person or group.”

In most cases, the Call Objective for the initial meeting is for the client to give you enough information for you to be able to recommend an advertising strategy, and for the client to agree to a presentation appointment. 

Write the objectives down in advance — that’s how you’ll keep yourself accountable.

Put the written objectives in your briefcase with your pre-meeting research, notepad, pen, question list, business cards, and appointment calendar, and you’ll have what you need for a successful first call.

Question: What are your best strategies for earning the right to come back for a presentation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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