Written by Sean McPheat |
When you have your first meeting with your new prospect, it is vital that you make a good impression, as this will create the impact that will determine the opinion of the prospect to both you and your products or services.
Having witnessed quite a few initial meetings myself, it often puzzles me why salespeople don’t think this stage of the sales process through more thoroughly, as it could make or break the relationship there and then.
Oftentimes, when a salesperson comes into our office, I overhear their opening ‘pitch’ from my office, and it sometimes makes me cringe.
These are questions that you should be thinking about long before you meet and greet the new prospect.
Imagine you’re meeting in their office for the first time. You’ve spoken to them on the phone and via email, and you’ve done your searches on their company profile through various search engines.
You’ve checked out their profile on LinkedIn and maybe even connected up.
Then how can you use your preparation to make a big impression?
After the usual small talk to build rapport, it’s time to get down to business. Read these typical opening statements and see what kind of impression they would make:
On the face of it, these opening statements don’t seem too bad. They are taking you into the business part of the meeting and act as a bridge to get you both mentally prepared to discuss what you’re really there for.
But they don’t make a BIG impression. They don’t make the prospect sit up and take notice. The first example above shows you’ve done no homework. The second makes it obvious that you’re only interested in showing up and throwing up. And the third is a cliched question that is too deep and intrusive in the first few seconds of the discussion.
So, what would be the best way to get into the meat of the meeting? What can you say that will make the prospect really want to converse with you?
Here are some examples:
“Mr Prospect, as you know, it’s important that I get to know something about your business first so we help you achieve your goals. Is it OK for me to ask a few questions first?”
“Mr Prospect, I’ve come prepared to show you how we can help ACME Ltd to achieve their goals for the future, but I have a few questions first, the answers to which will help me see how we can help you best. Is that OK?”
“Mr Prospect, my research showed that you’ve weathered the economic storm quite well and things are beginning to pick up now. You’ve opening two new offices and taken on over 20 new workers. May I start by asking what is driving this improvement and how you see things developing in the next year or two?”
“Mr Prospect, when I researched your company, I found a number of interesting facts that threw up a few questions. Are you OK if I share that information and ask you those questions?”
“Mr Prospect, I saw in the trade press that the operation is beginning to consolidate and that you’re interested in taking on more people. That sounds like it’s the sign of advancing sales. May I ask, what do you see happening to to sales in the next few months? Your answer will help me to see if, and how, we could assist you in selling more.”
What you’ll notice about these examples is that they politely enter the sales process by asking for information or confirmation before even thinking about talking about your products.
They put the prospect at ease, while showing them that you’re interested in their business.
They impress upon the prospect that you have carried out research before visiting. It shows that you’ve done your homework and that they don’t have to start from scratch in getting you up to speed with what’s happening.
This first impression is vital to get the prospect on your side and it enables you to advance the discussions much quicker than if you were simply to start with details of your company or products.
Originally published: 16 November, 2015