What are the methods to have a successful and productive business trip?
It took 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 a goal. This will help you to prepare everything and not miss any items to bring to the trip since a goal is set.
- Study about the company or person of interest – If you have done business with them, you will need to make 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, study how they merchandise, know their competition as well as your own competition, and each the company’s margin on the sale of your products.
- Make a presentation about your company- If your company is established, they would love to know the credibility of your company; How long have you been in business? If you are a start-up, no worries. 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 to mark their calendars. 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 for the meeting to set up and have your product sample presentable in the meeting room.
- During the meeting, ask them what their goals and needs are. Ask questions, instead of just selling, and try to answer all the questions you can during the meeting. At the end of meeting, repeat the discussion and main points and reconfirm what you will provide afterwards.
- After the meeting, write recap meeting notes – the more you write the better in order to follow up. People will remember everything within 24 hours while after 48 hours, they will forget about 30 %. If you are traveling, it is better to do the recap on the flight back or while waiting to be boarded. If you are at a trade show, it is always best to recap after each day of the show – give about 15 minutes to revisit the day. It is also important to know what went well and what did not go well so you can also improve for the next meeting.
- Send a “Thank You” note and recap meeting notes to the person you had a meeting with.
- If financially sensible, book direct flights as time is money. Majority of flights are subject to delay which might cause a dominoes effect on connecting flights.
Extra tip: instead of reading magazines or watching movies on the flight back home, go through emails, reply to as much 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 this same thing over and over again. The most important thing is to always learn from each day and find opportunities to improve and ask yourself, “Was this a productive and efficient meeting?” I found out I could be very productive during a business trip. If we use the tips above, we can all have successful and productive business trips.
– Melody Hsieh-Hornstra, MBA