When people encounter salespeople, whether it’s at the front door or at a furniture store, they are oftentimes avoided or ignored. Even salespeople have admitted to avoiding their professional colleagues when they are out and about. To combat the stigma when meeting with prospective clients, many in sales have replaced “Salesperson” on their business cards with something more approachable.
Adopt the Client’s Perspective
Ask yourself, If a salesperson were talking to me, how would I determine if I wanted to continue the conversation with them? Most would be interested in working with a salesperson that will provide them a solution, save them money or fix a problem. The goal within the first five minutes of meeting a client is to demonstrate that you are trustworthy, care about their business and can provide real impacts to their organization. To ensure these meetings go well not only the first time, but every time, use the following strategies:
- Do your research. Don’t claim to know everything about the business because you spent a few minutes on their website. On the same token, don’t ask for the history of their company – read up on it before the meeting. The adage of, “Owners love to talk about their company” is no longer true; they don’t have the time, especially if they’re not sure if they want to continue the conversation with you. Coming into the meeting with a solid foundation of background information will show you are interested in their organization and will work to establish a basis of trust.
- Go in with realistic expectations. Don’t try to get private information from the client on the first meeting. If that is your expectation, change it. Since trust has not yet been developed, they are less likely to divulge the information and you run the risk of offending them. Instead, let the client guide the conversation and focus on responding to the information they are comfortable sharing.
- Adjust your presentation style based on your audience. Every client is different. Understanding their personality type upon meeting them will determine your communication approach. Some people want to get right to the point, while others prefer engaging in small talk prior to discussing their goals. If you try to small talk with someone who only wants to discuss business matters, you could frustrate and lose them quickly. Getting a feel for the client’s personality and responding accordingly can make the difference between a second meeting, or a closed door.
- Listen more, talk less. We’ve all heard the saying, “He’d be a good salesman because he has the gift of gab.” If you’re doing all the talking, the client doesn’t have a chance to discuss their company’s needs. Make the most of your meeting time by letting the client do the talking. This not only makes for a more productive meeting, but it demonstrates that you care about their business challenges.
- Show value. Instead of trying to push or manipulate someone into a sale, the goal should be to show that you can provide real financial impacts, solve challenges and ultimately be trusted. The main point of sales is to listen to clients, understand the problems they are experiencing, and have solutions ready that will benefit their organization and provide results.
MEET OUR EXPERT
Senior Business Solutions Manager
Brian Mamo is a Senior Business Solutions Manager at The Center. In his role, Brian works directly with manufacturers in Macomb County, providing services and support that enable them to compete, grow and prosper. Brian has more than 25 years of experience as a trusted advisor to hundreds of clients in several industries including the manufacturing, industrial, medical and service industries. Prior to joining The Center, Brian spent the past seven years as Director of Business Development and member of the Executive Team of a facility maintenance company. In addition to managing the sales team, Brian worked to redesign the company’s sales and marketing plan while streamlining the sales and operations delivery process.
Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.