Each personality type favors different forms of communication. Some excel via the phone, some are great at wording an email and I am sure some simply wish that we could all communicate via smoke signal.
My preferred form of communication is always face to face. The importance of making a good impression and developing a good understanding of your contact can not be under estimated. One thing an old boss was forever telling me was ‘Never let a warm lead go cold” and the face to face is really a crucial part of that.
However, as previously noted, not all personality types easily lend themselves to this type of selling. There is no hiding in the face to face meeting and positive body language is CRITICAL. You are exposed to the world here and you don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time.
So in the interests of making every face to face meeting count – here are my tips on nailing these types of meetings and hitting the ball out of the park.
Step 1 - Before the meeting
Simple - research. You don’t need to be able to write a thesis on the person, but just enough to know a little about them (this will help you in step 2) and know a little more about their business (this will help you in step 4).
Step 2 – Introduction: Find a connection. Fast!
So the time has come and you are going to meet. Here’s where the fun starts.Whether is comes naturally or not, you need to find a connection with your prospect.
Obviously this can’t come across as forced, but I find it makes life so much easier if you are able to relate to the person in some sort of way. Talking about the weather can only get you so far. You need to dig a little deeper and find some mutual ground. Family is a big one, so is sport, travel also.
If you meet on a Monday then ask them if they got up to anything interesting. If you meet on a Friday, ask if they have anything interesting planned for the weekend. If you did your research, you might even find something of interest in their previous roles on LinkedIn or maybe where or what they studied.
Whatever. You simply need to casually probe and find somewhere you can relate. Once found, exploit! This will help you stay connected long after you initial meeting and can provide a reliable thread for your relationship ongoing.
You’ll know you’ve done this step well if you are chatting away and you start thinking to yourself “Wow, I better get on with this actual meeting”.
Step 3 - Listen. Question. Listen some more. Repeat.
OK, so the initial banter is over, you have made a connection and things are going well. Now you have to move it up a gear and gather information. Hopefully during step 1 you already have a few questions up your sleeve, but you will need to process what your prospect is saying quickly and dig as deep as you can in any area that you think you will be able to work with.
Step 4 - Understand ‘The problem(s)’
This is the clincher. If you don’t know this, then you are wasting everyone’s time. That’s not a good thing.
This really is just an extension of Step 3 but your probing needs to result in you gaining a deep understanding of the needs and issues of your prospect. If you don’t have a good grasp on the problem(s) then you are trying to solve a problem/need your client may not have and if you can’t paint a picture of a better future then you’ll invariably get a “No”.
Step 5 – Empathize & Provide A Solution
Right, now you’ve done the hard work. It is time to bring home the bacon and summon all your sales skills to articulate what you can do to help solve the problem(s).
This not a lecture session. Notice I placed ‘empathize’ in the Step 5 title? This is you coming across as though you have a thorough grasp of the problem(s), which you should by now, and offering what you/your rights holder can do to help solve the problem(s).
You need to be fully across what you are offering and you need to be nimble enough to adjust your offering to suit whatever the prospects needs are.
Step 6 – Follow Up/Close
If you can close the deal in the face to face meeting, great. However, it is usually unlikely because people don’t like to be sold to and they want to hold the power. You should understand and be comfortable with that.
What you need to do is gain agreement on appropriate action items and next steps and then follow up ASAP. As I said earlier, never let a warm lead go cold, and if this lead is red hot then you need to get all it over pronto.
If the meeting hasn’t set the world on fire then don’t pretend it has. Thank the prospect for their time and get on your way. Hopefully you have made a good enough connection that they will keep you in mind if things change or refer you when they meet someone who seems a good fit.
This process may seem simple and straight forward but don’t take it for granted.The fact is that most sales will need a face to face meeting at some point. You need to be at your best – so plan, prepare, listen, understand, solve and close.
Six easy steps to remember.
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