Anything you can do to learn about the person or people that you are meeting like the company, their products, their competition, and their customers can make a huge difference. It will help you understand how your product or service can tie into their overall goals. Also, you can ask better questions, show the prospect you care enough to do the research, and gain the upfront confidence you get from doing your homework.
Knowing the customer’s time frame also helps you manage the flow of the meeting. A simple question here is all you need. “I know we set aside 30 minutes for today’s meeting. I just want to make sure that still works for you?”
Common courtesy goes a long way. The last thing you want is someone looking at their watch because of a deadline that came up at the last minute.
Breaking the ice the right way can set the tone for the rest of your meeting. If you found in your research that the person you’re meeting was featured in a recent article or has a hobby or interest that you can relate to, ask them about it. Establishing rapport with your client is crucial to build those professional relationships.
Once you get started, you need to explain why you are there and what you want to accomplish. Some people call this an “initial benefit statement” or “general benefit statement.” It goes something like this:
Thanks again for sharing your time with us. XYZ company has been helping companies [mention briefly what your company does and the benefits your customers receive]. Our goal today is to learn more about your overall needs, goals, and challenges and see if there is an opportunity for us to benefit by working together. We did our homework on your company but would like to hear more about [their business, their environment, etc.].
Speaking of confidence, this is one of the most important elements of a successful meeting. People can and will read your expressions, body language and your voice inflection. They can determine if the words coming out of your mouth match your belief. It is essential to act and speak like you know what you are doing
A sales rep can never listen himself out of a sale. And no customer has ever said that they dislike a rep because they listen too much.
Your first meeting has a greater chance of success if you have actively listened at least two-thirds of the time. You can still get the information you’re looking for by directing questions carefully. This will give your prospect time to expand and elaborate on his answers, thus giving you a deeper understanding of their situation.
Be sure to follow up with your customer. It’s that follow-through that can make all the difference. That’s how a customer can really see your service in action.
Modified from 10 Essential Rules for Initial Sales Calls