What makes a successful and productive business trip? It took me about 15 years of traveling, trade shows, presentations and business meetings to learn these key points:
- Identify the purpose of the business trip. It’s important to know what you want to accomplish so you can set up goals. This will help you to prepare and not miss any items.
- Study the company or person of interest. If you have done business with them, you will need to make a report of their past sales. If you haven’t done business with them, you will need to study their company mission statement, go visit their store layout, understand how they merchandise, know their competition compared to your own competition and have each companies’ margin on the sale of your products.
- Make a presentation about your company. If your company is established, attendees love to know its credibility. How long have you been in business? If you’re a startup, tell them where you are and where you’re going.
- Be passionate. Be able to clearly and passionately share your vision and goals. People are always able to see your enthusiasm and tend to gravitate towards passionate people. Passion is the key to get you started.
- Send an Outlook calendar appointment. If you are presenting, it is also very important to send a friendly reminder about the meeting before you book the flight and accommodations. Make sure to reconfirm the meeting time.
- Manage your time. Show up 20-30 minutes early to set up and have your product sample presentable in the meeting room.
- During the meeting, ask attendees what their goals and needs are. Ask questions instead of just selling, and try to answer all the questions you can during the meeting. After it is over, repeat the discussion and main points and reconfirm what you will provide afterwards.
- Keep recap meeting notes. The more you write, the better in order you are to follow up. People will remember everything within 24 hours. After 48 hours, they will forget about 30 percent of that information. If you are traveling, it’s better to do the recap on the flight back or while waiting to board. If you are at a trade show, it is always best to recap after each day of the show. Spend about 15 minutes revisiting each day.
- Send a thank-you note to the person you met with.
- If financially sensible, book direct flights. The majority of flights are subject to delay, which might cause a domino effect on connecting flights. Time is money.
Extra tip: Instead of reading magazines or watching movies on the flight back home, go through emails, reply to as many as possible and set up a to-do list reminder. A flight home is a great opportunity to calm down, clear your mind and be productive.
As of today, I am coaching my team to do these same things over and over again. Always learn from each day and find opportunities to improve and ask yourself, “Was this a productive and efficient meeting?” If we use the tips above, we can all have successful business trips.
A version of this article appeared on Mobozine.