Our profession has an old saying, “Selling is a contact sport.” This means that to sell something, you must meet with the prospect. You have to put your face in front of people before you can establish rapport and make them feel comfortable enough to do business with you.
You have been working hard to identify and pre-qualify prospects. You have been contacting individuals asking for a few minutes of their time so you can outline your program and its benefits. So what if everything you have done eventually works? What do you do if your prospect agrees to a personal meeting?
Many salespeople who are successful getting appointments fail when it comes to being prepared to meet with a prospect and take the relationship to the next level. All too often these salespeople resort to what comes naturally — reciting their brochure. They almost become a talking brochure. If you simply recite your brochure (“we have a staff of three; we’ve been in business fifteen years and we’re the best”) your prospect’s eyes will glaze over slowly but surely, like he’s watching a potato grow.
Most of your prospects will be intelligent and polite. So if you are granted an interview, you will find that prospects do not throw you out of their home or office even when you show up as a talking brochure. They will probably look at you, nod their heads, and pretend they are interested in what you are saying. In reality, there is a very good chance they are thinking….
Prospect (thinking): “This is all pretty trite. When are you going to tell me something I don’t already know? I canceled my root canal for this!?”
Trouble is, you won’t know your prospect is writing you off since he’ll be smiling and nodding politely.
Go in prepared. Meetings like this don’t grow on trees. You’ve got to know exactly what information you are going in with, and, I hasten to add, exactly what information you want to take away from the meeting.
Here are some general guidelines to help make your meetings more productive.
Cram For The Exam
Think of your preparation for the meeting like the proverbial “cram” for an exam. The topic: Your prospect’s business. These days you can almost begin and end your research on the Internet.
Research the prospect’s web site or Facebook page. Depending on what you are selling, this information can be incredibly valuable. At the very least, you will immediately win the prospect’s respect when you demonstrate that you took the time to know about their likes and dislikes.
Lights, Camera, Action
Treat every presentation like it’s an event. You are on stage before a captive audience. Warm up and treat the meeting as a unique opportunity. Believe that every prospect will listen if what you have to say is worth listening to. Remember that enthusiasm is contagious. Look alive and show your enthusiasm for your product or service.
People usually end up doing business with people they like. So, one of your primary objectives in going to a meeting, other than to fact find, is to make this new person feel like a friend. Focus on getting the prospect to feel comfortable with you. If you go with that objective in mind, you probably will find something about the prospect that you like. That creates a very valuable chemistry.
The prospect may want to know something about you, too. But keep your description of your qualifications brief. People who “sell” their qualifications come off as insecure or pompous. Keep your self-description to two or three minutes (practice with a watch). Then focus on showing a sincere interest in your prospect’s business. Almost every sentence that comes out of your mouth from there on should have a question mark planted at the end.
The underlying secret is not to shoot yourself in the foot. If you find yourself listening more than you are talking you can be sure you are moving in the right direction.