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Second Time Around

How to handle the important second meeting – and know if you’re ready to close

As I mentioned last time, one of the key components of my Sales Success Academy course is taking my students through the sales process from start to finish. In the last blog, we covered that all-important first meeting. This week I want to talk about the second meeting and how we start to move the prospect closer to becoming a customer – and how to know when is the right time to make that move.

There’s so much to say here that I’m going to break it down over a couple of weeks. Today, we’ll be looking at preparation for the meeting, including how to know that your prospect is ready for it, and how to position both of you ready to cross the “bridge” between prospect and customer next time.

What should your prospect be thinking?

If your prospect isn’t ready, then you’re wasting time for both of you in having a second meeting now.

But that doesn’t mean that they should be thinking “I’m going to buy from this person.” In fact, it’s important that you don’t think that. You need to accept that they may not be ready to buy yet. By having this frame of mind it will help you to focus on them and their problems and not on you and what you want.

If it turns out that they are ready – fantastic! You’ll have a pleasant surprise, rather than a nasty one.

Remember, sales is a journey, and some journeys take longer than others – particularly for bigger ticket services. And you can easily lose a sale at any point on this journey if you say or do the wrong thing.

So, before wasting your time with them, before a second meeting happens your prospects should be thinking two things:

  1. They like you – you are helpful and could add value to their world;
  2. They are intrigued by you and your offer – they want to know more.

As you can see, this is all set up by the first meeting. Now you understand why last time I emphasised the importance of the first meeting and building rapport, as well as using your Emotional Sales Intelligence and questioning skills.

Your goal for a first meeting, therefore, should be to get your prospect thinking these two things about you.

Meeting Preparation - Act like a Sales Professional, not a Sales Amateur

You’d be amazed at how many salespeople there are who come across as rank amateurs.

You need to differentiate yourself from the crowd by showing that you are a Sales Professional, not a sales amateur. I’m producing some great new content on this shortly that is designed to help you achieve “professional” status. Make sure you’re following the James White Sales Facebook page to be notified when this is ready for you.

How do you show you’re a professional before the meeting?

First of all, don’t just send a “reminder” email the week before the second meeting, send an Agenda. This positions you as someone who understands the importance of the prospect’s time and the need for clarity about what this meeting will be about.

Among other things, you should include a review of the issues raised in the first meeting, a further discussion on identified key areas, and possible resolutions and how your organisation has solved similar problems in the past.

My Sales Success Academy students have been provided with a pack of template agendas with example phrasing that has been designed to show your preparedness and professionalism, as well as helping to bring them further along that sales journey. If you think tools like this could be helpful in increasing your sales success, just drop me a line to [email protected] and let’s see if there’s a way we can work together on that.

The next thing to do is to drop the prospect an email the day before, but don’t do what many salespeople do and send a simple “reminder”. As a professional, you are confirming the meeting and asking if there are any changes (for example, to who will be present). Again, this gives you some time to prepare so you don’t enter a meeting and immediately be put on the back foot.

There are many other aspects to becoming a Sales Professional versus a sales amateur. I wrote about just a few in a previous blog here but stay tuned to my Facebook page for more material on this coming very soon.

The meeting itself - the right questions at the right time

How you conduct the second meeting is really important if you are going to take the prospect further on their sales journey with you towards being a client.

The first thing is to be human! Start with some small talk that shows that you listened to them at the first meeting.

Compare these two openers:

“Hello, John. How are you? Have you been well?”

Or:

“Hello, John. You said last time you were about to bid for a new government contract, how did that go?” 

The next thing to do is to make them understand this is their meeting, for their benefit. You can do this by saying something like the following:

“John, I really want to ensure that this meeting achieves what you want it to and to ensure it adds value to your day. I sent out the agenda but just for clarity can you confirm the top 3 things you would like to get from this meeting that would make it valuable and is a good use of your time?”

And then SHUT UP!

This shows that you are focused on them and their concerns, but also that you’re flexible.

Remember, your prospect should still be doing most of the talking at this stage – meeting two still isn’t a license to talk all about you! You need to continue to show that the prospect is your key focus.

BUT…

Don’t forget your Emotional Sales Intelligence. Always be alert to how prospects are reacting to you and your questioning. Are they finding you helpful and interesting? Are they engaged with you? Have you started to ask questions that are too long, or too involved?

A quick tip here: avoid questions that start with “why” – they can sometimes be perceived as accusations.

Here’s an example to compare:

“Why did you move your system from that provider to the other one?”

Versus:

“What was the reason behind moving your system from that provider to the other one?”

Can you see how the first one could be perceived negatively? I went through quite a few similar potential “gotchas” with my Sales Success Academy students this week.

Your goal in a second meeting is that you should be able to reach a conclusion where you have asked your questions, listened carefully, understood, and can then reflect back to the prospect your understanding of their situation and what they are looking for as a solution.

If you don’t get the answer “yes, that’s right” to your summary then go back and ask the questions you should have asked in the first place!

 

Bridge over Troubled Waters?

I’m going to leave it there for now, and next time I’ll look at the concept I called “bridging”, which is taking your prospect from this point to becoming a client – wanting to use your solution to address their problems and taking action on that.

Let me know what problem areas you find with second meetings. What steps do you take to mark yourself out as a sales professional as opposed to a sales amateur? Would like to join my next Sales Success Academy or receive some specific help around selling your product or service? You can contact me on [email protected] or via the usual social platforms – LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – by searching for “jameswhitesales”.

Until next time, take care and remember: always be a Sales Professional, not a Sales Amateur!

 

James White

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