From page 85 of Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow“:
The principle of independent judgments (and decorrelated errors) has immediate applications for the conduct of meetings, an activity in which executives in organizations spend a great deal of their working days. A simple rule can help: before an issue is discussed, all members of the committee should be asked to write a very brief summary of their position. This procedure makes good use of the value of the diversity of knowledge and opinion in the group. The standard practice of open discussion gives too much weight to the opinions of those who speak early and assertively, causing others to line up behind them.
As you are developing your enterprise sale, there is often the Big Group Meeting that follows several one-on-one conversations with various players involved with the decision. These group pow-wows, for better or worse, are frequently the “make or break” in your sales process. If there is mutual agreement among the committee, your sales probability will rise dramatically. If there is discourse or inaction, you risk wallowing in sales purgatory or death.
When you take a leadership position such as is described above by Kahneman, you will uncover exactly where you stand with each committee member. For any dissenters, it will provide you the opportunity to individually address their objection before the Big Group Meeting, or at a minimum, address their concerns during the meeting. Silence should be assumed to be dissension until proven otherwise. Most of all, you mitigate the “group think” mentally where a single player in the room can artificially push fence-sitters away from supporting your product or service.
For your supporters, it will illustrate for you why they support your position.
Yes, this sounds scary to individually call the members, and it seems unorthodox. And the reason it sounds unorthodox is because few people do it – it’s only something that successful salespeople do. You deserve to know where you stand going into a meeting so you’re not dodging bullets, instead focusing on answering questions and leading the group to consensus.