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I had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Atkins, the Senior Vice President Business Development at Progyny.
Mo asked Brent:
“What is your goal when you go into a first meeting? How do you approach it?
“That’s a great question, and you know as I’ve moved along in my career, one of the things in leading teams of sales people and especially at Progyny where sometimes I’m leading younger sales associates who are trying to develop and move up, I had the opportunity to do mentorship in the carrier world as well. I get a big kick out of that because I love pulling people along and turning them into being desirous of being a student or business development. First thing you’ve got to do is be desirous of being a student. So, my philosophy, and what I really encourage my team to do is, set an objective for meeting that says, what are the one to no more than three things that you would want this person to takeaway from your initial meeting. Maybe the one to three things that you have written down and that you have prepared for, are the right things, and maybe they are not the right things. So, the second part of that is, be prepared to pivot… If you have a lot of slides in your initial presentation, you’re making a mistake. I’ve told people that, and I like to come in with no slides or sometimes two or three slides that just introduces what we do from a very high level, but I’m not starting with those slides. I’m not starting with the Nascar slide that shows all the logos that we have, and the results that we are ultimately driving. I want to understand why we are having this meeting in the first place. I want to understand the role of the person that we’re talking to or the people that we’re talking to. I want to understand the mission that they have at hand. Sometimes that mission is education. Sometimes that mission is that they’ve been charged by their superior to go find a solution in this space, and they need to kind of understand what these solutions are in a little bit more detail before they come back and make a recommendation. Is this something that they’re driving or is this something that’s being driven on their behalf? Then when you think about what we do at Progyny, helping people start families in really thoughtful ways, theres a lot of education in this area because folks that we are talking to are generally benefits, professionals, or they’re finance professionals you know in leadership positions that they’ve got this whole giant scope of responsibility. I think to have the expectation that they’ve got anything beyond cursory knowledge of this particular space is a flaw and a fault. This is an area of care that’s unlike any other area of care. If somebody was a generalist for so many years, I see that. So, asking those questions and kind of understanding what their level of understanding and appreciation of the space itself is a great starting point. Then I am also a huge proponent of the pregnant pause, which is, ask the question and once you get a response, you need to ask another thoughtful question so the person on the other end doesn’t feel like you’re just peppering them with kind of pre-made questions because that doesn’t come across as authentic.
Dive deeper into the conversation with Brent Atkins here.
Through the course of interacting with one of Brent’s early bosses, he learned he needed to be prepared for the questions he was going to ask Brent, but also that he needed answers to the questions from their perspective in order to serve them better. He needed to have a dialogue with the customer because all his knowledge about what he was selling was only one small piece of the overall business development process.
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