I had with a colleague of mine who is a veteran in the CRM software industry. He was explaining to me what is the best you can expect to get out of a first meeting as the underdog in a sales appointment.
He uses the example:
You are meeting a new associate called John. If a colleague tells you that John is a selfish person who is only out for themselves, you would have preconceptions before meeting him. Once you have met John and he turns out to be a really nice helpful person you will probably think that John was just putting on a front to get what he wants out of you. After the second or third time you meet John and he is continually showing his nice friendly characteristics you may have confidence in the fact your colleague may have been wrong.
The key message is that the best John can expect from the first meeting is that you think that John is not as bad as people have made you out to be. You may still have reservations about if what your colleagues say are true but at least you are giving John a second chance to prove your preconceptions right or wrong.
If you apply this logic to a sales situation where you are coming into a situation as the underdog you need to set your expectation about what your initial goals are. If your prospect has been told a number of negative things about your solution then the best thing you can achieve from the meeting is that you have demonstrated enough credibility to keep you in the running for the tender. You should count that outcome as a success.
Have you had any experiences of this kind of situation? Did you set your goals higher? What happened?