Three Minutes Can Make Or Break The Sale
Do you get the prospect meeting jitters? When you meet with a prospect for the first time, do you come across poised and confident or nervous and unsure of yourself? I would argue that your fate with a new prospect is often determined in the first three minutes of your initial meeting.
That’s not to say that you’ll make a sale in the first three minutes. It does mean, however, that your first impression is often your lasting impression. How do others perceive you? Let’s start with your appearance. Before you can say a word, your prospect is judging you by the way you look. How are you being graded? Are you neat and clean? Are you polished and professional?
If you don’t take care of your appearance, if your shirt is wrinkled or you have a stain on your pants, why should the prospect think you can take care of their account? Since appearance is often subjective and we don’t always see ourselves as others do, it is a good idea to ask someone you know and trust for their completely honest feedback on your appearance. Be open to their ideas and suggestions. They are trying to help.
Beyond your appearance, your communication will either give you a great start or seal your fate early. Your communication starts with body language. In fact, research indicates that body language represents a whopping 55% of what’s communicated. Again, what does your body language say about you?
I recently met with a seasoned salesperson who wanted to “sell to me.” Once we were seated, he started nervously bouncing his left leg as we were talking. He probably wasn’t even consciously aware that he was doing it. His eye contact was a little darting as well. And my first thought was “I’m not going to buy anything from this guy.”
So, do you have any nervous mannerisms? Pay attention to what you do, because others will. Act confidently. That means maintaining good eye, avoiding distracting or annoying hand or body movements and just being natural.
What you say and how you say it is also critical at this stage for starting out on the right foot. What do you usually say when you’re starting off a meeting with a prospect? Do you just kind of wing it? Do you scan the room and look for a great conversation starter? Both of these techniques are not going to score you big points. In fact, you’ll likely just be viewed as another typical salesperson, because your prospect has seen it all before. Is that what you want?
If you want to set yourself apart, use those first three minutes to start creating an open and trustworthy relationship. The first step is to remove any sales pressure. While you may not have said or done anything explicitly to exert sales pressure at this point, your prospect has probably assumed some just by agreeing to see you. So your first job is to get rid of it.
Find your own words to let the prospect know that you are not there to put any sales pressure on her. You may say something like, “Jane, since this is our first meeting, my goal is to find out more about you and your company and to be able to answer any questions about me and my company that you might have. So, I want you to know that I won’t put any pressure on you to buy anything from me. I’d also like it if you wouldn’t put any pressure on me to sell you something. Is that ok with you?”
The exact wording is not as important as your intent. Your intent should be to create a pressure-free environment to have an open and honest conversation with someone. Your intent should be to get to the truth to see if a good fit exists between you and your prospect. Do not assume that there is a fit and that the prospect needs what you offer before you truly understand the prospect.
Once you have gone through your no-pressure disclaimer and found out what your prospect wants to accomplish in your time together, the next question could be, “So Jane, tell me how you got into the position you’re in now?” At this stage, you want to start building a relationship. Relationships are based on connections between two people. So start your conversation by focusing on the other person, not their company or their needs. That will come later if you do a good job connecting with the person.
Remember, if you project confidence and composure in your dress, your attitude and your demeanor, you will be off to a great start. Combine that by demonstrating a genuine interest in your prospect by focusing on them and not what you are there to sell. If you do this, your first three minutes will be a great investment for both you and your prospect.