A vast numbers of blogs are written about how to sell, how to present and how to impress buyers. Very little is written about how to be an effective buyer, how to vet a new idea, how to listen to a seller so you get the information you need to make a profitable decision.
1. If the seller doesn't know you, they don't know you. Don't expect them to anticipate your whims. At the beginning of the meeting tell them what's important and not important to you. Don't play the game of battleship where they have to guess what you know. Tell them your points of passion. This will save a lot of time.
2. Don't bring in a colleague ¾'s of the way through the presentation because you suddenly realize you need back up. Listen to what the seller has to say all the way through. If you want more members of your team to hear about the idea, schedule a second meeting. You can really screw up the presenter by having them repeat large sections of the pitch for the uninformed and unprepared.
3. Yes the seller needs water and wants coffee. Be a sport. Food is extremely conducive to an effective selling dynamic. Only in the too-cool-for-school digital world has light snacking been replaced by bottled water. This is a tragedy. Nothing is sold at the gym. When seller is eating, they relax and will answer your harder questions with more candor. This also gives you a chance to establish a social rapport. Why is this important with a seller you just met? Because that seller is going to see 10 other customers this week and you just might want a job at one of those companies or competitive intelligence.
4. Yes, ask questions, tell your stories, participate. You'll get more information when you share your point of view and ask your questions. It is flattering, not rude. If a presenter won't let you interrupt, they are not as interested in your needs as you probably want them to be. The price won't go up just because you seem excited, it may actually go down. (The price will go up, however, if you have a very, very fancy conference room.)
5. If you must say no to the idea or product, tell the seller why. Tell them exactly why. You won't break their heart or prompt a suicide. Tell them specifically what the problems are. Some lame ass statement like, "This doesn't fit in with our fund." Or, "All of our budgets are being trimmed right now.
No Money." Or, "We love this idea but don't know how it is compatible with our other initiatives." ---that's all BS and the seller knows it. You have failed as a professional and friend with useless answers like that.
Tell the truth even if you fear it makes you look stupid. Say you don't understand the idea or need it explained again. Say you don't know how to get the money from your corporation, that you don't have the juice, that you are half way out the door. Tell the truth. The reason for this is that the seller may well be able to help you find the language to sell it through or justify the expense.
The sale begins when the client says "no."