How would you rate your performance when you’re making the first call or having a first meeting with prospects?
Most salespeople I ask this question tell me that they think they do ok, but very few seem to be completely confident about it.
I find this quite strange because the first call is really important!
I think many of us don’t think of it like that because it’s not a closing opportunity.
“You can’t make a sale on a first call,” is something I hear a lot.
I agree, but you sure as hell can lose one if you make a pig’s ear of it!
Let’s look at how we can avoid making that mistake.
By this I mean make sure you’re well prepared – both in terms of doing your research and being mentally ready. There’s no point making any kind of sales call if you’re not in a frame of mind that lets you do your best work.
Get your research done. Have you used LinkedIn or other social media to see what’s currently of personal interest or concern to the prospect? Have you done more than just a quick look at their company’s website? Have you found things that you and your business have in common with them and theirs? Any shared members of your network? Have you actually written all of this down?!
Too often, salespeople will think that the goal of a first meeting is to get some buy-in from the prospect and look to book in a pre-closing meeting, or even a close.
That’s a bit like getting down on one knee and asking someone to marry you at the end of a first date!
You are nowhere near ticking enough boxes in the prospect’s mind to get them wanting to start a journey with you.
Before they are ready to commit more time to you, you need to show them that:
Your goals should be to build rapport and to understand fully the prospect’s concerns, needs, or pain-points.
This one’s tough for some salespeople to hear. But the most successful salespeople understand that making the first meeting all about how great you and your service is will turn a prospect off very quickly.
The best way to start your prospect’s sales journey is not only by understanding what their wants and needs are but actively showing the prospect that you have understood them and that you want to work with them to fix their problems or fulfil those needs.
You should be using open questions (why, who, what, when, etc) that allow your prospect the room to explain their situation. Reflect their answers back to them in summary to show you have understood their needs. Show real empathy. Treat them like a fellow human being you’re actually interested in!
Emotional Sales Intelligence encompasses self-awareness, body language, social skills, empathy, active listening and more. It’s a module on its own, and if you’re interested in this powerful skill set just reply to this email and I’ll let you have more details.
Make sure that you’re looking and sounding professional but approachable (whether this is a face-to-face meeting or not). Use body language mirroring to help with rapport, and watch for non-verbal signals from the client that show you how far along that sales journey they are.
Take notes (and be seen to take notes if you’re meeting via video). If you’re meeting face-to-face, please use a nice-looking notebook.
Be conscious of your posture and tone of voice, and choose your dress to be appropriate. If the prospect is a suit and tie kind of place, then you need to match that. If they are a casual jeans-and-a-t-shirt place, then I’d go for a smart casual rather than matching that one, but I wouldn’t wear a tie or suit.
You should never leave anything hanging in the air. Always set expectations for how you are going to follow up.
If the meeting went well and you felt that the prospect has made a good start on their journey with you, try and get another meeting booked in the diary before you leave – or if that’s not possible, at least a confirmed appointment for a follow-up call.
Remember, even though we can’t expect to close a deal at the end of a first meeting, we should be expecting to close on an appointment for meeting 2!
The next blog will be to look at how we go about handling that all-important next meeting. But here’s a video I made some time ago with some more tips on that first meeting: “How to Ensure your First Prospect Meeting is a Success”
This is just one area that’s covered by students in my Sales Success Academy. If you’d like to express your interest in joining the next available intake, then head here to find out more:
If you want to get in touch you can email me at [email protected], or you can find me via the usual social channels – LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter – just search for “jameswhitesales”.
I hope your upcoming first meetings all go really well. But if not, don’t forget to reflect on why, and be especially focused on whether or not you built up enough rapport.