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Common Questions and Answers
There’s a reason for the lofty status applied to first impressions. The beginning of every meaningful relationship involves an initial point of contact. Decision makers want to see a person they can believe in before they move further along the sales process. While the first meeting may not seal a deal, it determines whether you get the opportunity to deliver your pitch.
As a meeting is the first time a sales professional asks a business for a commitment in return, for time and attention, the day itself is paramount. While thorough preparation is essential, it is your delivery and not the research that the client actually sees. No two meetings will go in the exact same direction or require the same approach, but there are universally effective ways to present yourself, respond to objections and manage your meeting.
Actions & Observations
Whether you’re the seller or the buyer, the goal of a new business meeting is to find out more about your counterpart. It is not a pitch, it’s a discovery meeting. As such, towing a line between an organised agenda and being flexible to conversation is often the best approach. Asking qualifying questions and learning the details you need does not mean the meeting has to stay on a strict path. Hold a discussion, not an interrogation. Balance your talk to include interaction and invite participation.
More often than not, a combination of leading and following is the right stance to take. Your meeting style should result in a relaxed conversation, an approach that not only enables you to resolve any doubts that are raised but can also withdraw pertinent details. The objectives of a meeting are to gain access to the proposal and pitching stages but also to acquire further information to assist these steps. Opening the floor to your prospect assists both of these goals.
Being outwardly engaged whether talking or listening is as vital to the meeting as what you say.
In essence, a meeting should be used to distinguish between what you know and what you think you know and should be approached similarly to a cold call. A conversational, back and forth style lends itself to both these things and achieving a balance between assertive and receptive is entirely possible. Be confident and excited, after all selling is exciting and your prospective customer will want to see enthusiasm, but remain in control and on focus.
Using Logic & Emotions
When looking to persuade, the best salesmen don’t only appeal to logic or emotion, they target both. Providing a solution is central to your offering, but a first meeting is not the time to outline a bespoke offer. To support your claims of performance levels and ROI, utilise case studies and examples of where you have seen success. Rather than overwhelming a prospect, or pitching before you’ve been invited to, back-up your claims and appeal to their rational side.
Emotions hold a unique power over decision making. They influence people’s choices, sometimes without them even realising. Despite being unpredictable and hard to read, they can be managed and used by a salesperson. Your language choices can be used to provoke signals that, if you see and comprehend, can provide genuine insights. Problem words, benefit words and emotive responses can all be used to make an impact and extract information from a prospect.
Decisions are often based on emotion, but are rarely made without logic.
Establishing a connection and building a rapport requires awareness of emotions, behaviours and how to react in different circumstances. These are things that should come naturally to a well-prepared and effective sales person. Applying closing techniques, whether traditional or innovative, is not for this stage. It is about resolving the meeting, not the sale. You can find out more about closing in our Closing section (link). The follow-up to the meeting is a more important factor. The timing and manner of this should depend on the resolution of the meeting, but don’t let the silence hang for too long.
Prospective clients don’t request proposals from everybody they meet. To consistently get past this stage and move onto the main body of your selling, it is important that you:
* Use your prior research to reach the goal of the meeting
* Don’t expect to stick to an agenda but hold a discussion
* Provide proof of performance and use emotional responses to your advantage
* Leave the meeting with a clear outcome and follow-up accordingly
These universal points will ensure that you are giving yourself the best possible chance to be invited back, no matter what direction the meeting goes in.
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