Meetings are considered an essential part of the B2B sales process. Decision-makers want to feel important, be heard and they want to build a relationship with you that is genuine. These meetings can secure business, persuade loyal customers to expand with you, or see an account walk out the door if things go badly.

So what things are likely to destroy your chances with your prospect or long term clients? The following list might seem obvious, but when it comes to meeting with decision-makers, it is important that you remember how simple it can be to turn people away.

  1. Unprepared for the client.

If you think that a meeting is a casual affair, you are wrong. You should always know why the client wants to meet and be prepared with answers. Your prospect is paying for your time, be it a 5-minute online chat or a lunch meeting, you should always be prepared to answer questions for your client and enter the discussion with as much knowledge as you can.

  1. Showing up late.

Being busy is no excuse for poor time management. Being late is the fastest way of saying ‘your business is not important to us’. You must be on time every time, no excuses.

  1. Displaying poor posture.

Slumping on your chair, leaning on a desk or holding your chin in your hand are all signals that the meeting is boring, you are not interested and you are too tired to engage.

Decision-makers want people who are alert, interested and vibrant to take on their contracts. Pull yourself together for meetings and hold yourself tall. Showing up is more than being physically present, you need to show that you are ready for the task too.

  1. Making excuses for your questions.

Asking clarifying questions shows the clients that you are interested in understanding, so you do not need to apologise for asking questions. When you say ‘I should know this but can you tell me’ or variations of such a question, you are telling the prospect ‘I am not confident and I feel easily embarrassed doing my job.’ Be confident and do not apologise for asking for answers – often you will find prospects appreciate your willingness to really understand their needs.

  1. Talking Too Much.

Your meeting is a sales pitch, yes, but that doesn’t mean you should do all the talking. The meeting is usually to clarify finer points, so allow the prospect to ask. If you are in a meeting, the prospect is already considering your business, let them convince themselves. Clients and prospects who feel that they made the decision are going to have more confidence in the final sale, so listen and answer, but allow the prospect to do the talking.

  1. Using your mobile device.

Do not look at, touch or even think about your phone in a meeting. It is more than rude, it is dismissive. When someone else is talking, that is where your attention needs to be. The great thing about phones is that they are not time-sensitive – messages are stored on the little computer for you to see later. Devote your full attention to meetings and start doing something people have forgotten to do in the past 10 years, and engage. You will win huge respect from your prospect and maybe even shift them towards doing the same in their next meeting.

Meetings with decision-makers are always tense affairs. You need to be prepared and polite, it’s that difficult. You are representing your company, your brand and your future, so investing in understanding how to present well and engage with prospects is still an important part of business development.

As meetings move online, the dynamics will shift, however, all the same manners apply, with listening actually moving well to the top of the list as body language and other subtle cues are less obvious online. By practising, you’ll start to improve and see the benefits of engaging during meetings.