Last week, I talked about how to follow up on valuable leads to make sure that you turn them into gold. Everything focused on making contact and getting a first face-to-face meeting with your target customer, which is a huge and important step.
Now, the real mining begins; this is when your talent as a salesperson is put to the test and you can strut your stuff. No matter how you got there, even if you did not set up the meeting yourself, this is when the selling starts. One of my good friends likes to say that salespeople should always be selling and not doing anything else like apologizing for late deliveries or poor performance.
At the first meeting, stay cool, and don’t let them see you sweat. This meeting is what you have spent your entire career preparing for! Here are 10 simple tips to make the first meeting successful:
- Listen more than you talk. Ask questions designed to take the target customer in the direction you want to go, and prepare these questions ahead of time. Ask them in a casual, natural way that will put the prospect at ease. This is not an inquisition. It’s okay to take notes as longs as doing so doesn’t distract from the flow of the conversation.
- Be interested. If you are asking the right questions in the right way, the prospect will tell you what you need to know to do business with their company. This information you gather will be the roadmap for your tactical plan to win the account in the end.
- Put their company first. You are there to learn about the prospect’s company, and they only care about what you can do for them. Their company has challenges, and it is up to you to provide the solutions. Before you talk about your company, carefully select the attributes of your company that will help solve their problems.
- Be a pleasant and attentive listener. Do not argue, contradict, or challenge at any time. Remember that you are trying to get this person to want to do business with your company, and you are the only representation of your company that they see. In the meeting, the future of the relationship between this prospect and your company is in your hands, hanging on how you behave. So, behave accordingly.
- Start merging your ideas. Demonstrate what your company can do for your prospect. Stick to the facts and stay away from prepared sales pitches. Base your sales pitch on what they have already told you about their needs, and explain how your company can meet those needs.
- Start ending the meeting when the time is right. If the potential customer told you they had 20 minutes, keep it to that unless they want to keep it going. Then, stay as long as they want you to be there. Otherwise keep it short, sweet, and effective.
- Summarize the meeting. Include what the prospect said they needed and what you said you could do for them.
- Always ask for that next step. Don’t tell the prospect what that step is; let them tell you. Recount what they said they would do as well as anything you committed to doing.
- Set up the next meeting before you leave. This is critical. Do not leave without setting up another meeting!
- Always send a summary of the meeting you just had. This should include what you discussed and what you both agreed to do for each other.
And here is one more, since you should always under promise and over deliver. Send a thank you card, thanking the prospect for meeting with you. Send it via snail mail and ensure it is hand addressed and signed with a personal note. This will go miles towards cementing your relationship.
If you take the time and effort to prepare for the first meeting and use these tips, you will always be successful at turning those leads into gold.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.