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7 Tips for Making a Success of That Crucial First Meeting With a Prospect You put in a lot of work just to be invited to give a presentation. Don't blow your opportunity with little mistakes.

By Jason Wesbecher Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Obtaining a face-to-face meeting with a prospective buyer is hard to secure, painful to schedule and expensive to attend. And yet, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars being funneled into online presentation tools like WebEx, GoToMeeting and Join.me, nothing really beats an in-person meeting with a new prospect.

Can you imagine Apple unveiling to the press the Apple Watch over a WebEx? Of course not! The face-to-face meeting allows the salesperson to collect context about the buyer, subtleties such as body language and political nuance, that will be beneficial as the sales campaign evolves. The prospect sees that the selling team is are competent and credible professionals who can help the buyer think through and solve the problem at hand.

Related: Mastering the Face-to-Face Meeting

Below are seven tips to give your best face-to-face.

1. Be a Boy Scout, be prepared. Upon entering the conference room a few minutes before start time you invariably find that something is broken. Which is why you come prepared with your own projector and mobile WiFi. Something always goes wrong at this step, so prepare for mishaps.

2. Electronic device etiquette. Turn off your phone. Not silent. Off. If you take notes on a tablet, silence the annoying keyboard clicks. Whoever is presenting needs to make sure that their email client is turned off. It's highly distracting to have email notifications interrupting your presentation.

3. Give Cliff's notes. Kick-off the meeting by telling the audience exactly what they will learn. Promise them that you have structured the agenda to optimize for their time and that you will conclude your material 15 minutes early. Say that you'll be happy to stay behind for additional questions. Most times, you will find a few audience members stay behind well beyond the allotted time.

Related: Why No Amount of Social Media Can Ever Equal Meeting Face to Face

4. Manage the introductions. If there is a large audience, eschew the roundtable introductions. They will take far too much of your precious time. Pass around a sign-in sheet to satisfy your needs. Besides, you should already have a rough sense as to the parties represented. Keep in mind the buyer's team usually already knows each other.

5. Cut the fat. Do not begin the presentation with a slide that says some form of Our History or Who We Are or Our Vision. This is a surefire way to lose your audience. They already know just enough to have allowed you in their building and now want to know about your offering, not your company.

6. Speak authentically. Be prescriptive about your offering. Talk about it within the context of a broader solution. Be transparent about the strengths and opportunities for improvement of your offering. Suggest a willingness to partner together to fill whatever gaps may be identified.

7. Find the influencer. Many times you will find that the most influential voices on the buyer's team do not have a corresponding position on the org chart. This is a classic example of hierarchical power versus influential power. Be sure to read the room to identify these folks. They can very quietly hurt or help your efforts.

Getting the first face-to-face presentation involves a ton of hustle. So, don't blow your only shot to make a solid first impression. Preparation, etiquette and authentically engaging the audience will be your aces in the hole to help you earn a second meeting.

Related: Sales Meeting Success Tips

Jason Wesbecher

Entrepreneur; CMO Mattersight; CEO Docket

Jason Wesbecher is the CMO of Mattersight, the pioneer in personality-based software applications. He is a former entrepreneur, having founded a venture-backed sales enablement software company. As a seasoned sales and marketing leader, Jason has served as a trusted business advisor to companies big and small around the world.

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