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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Breaking the Ice with a New Business Prospect


The best B2B salespeople know the shortest path to a new business prospect's wallet is through a thorough understanding of needs, problems, challenges and opportunities. Wouldn't it be nice if a new business prospect would simply email this information to the salesperson — this would eliminate the need to set an appointment and conduct a needs analysis. That would be a great sales strategy!

Too bad converting a new business prospect does not work this way. There is some work involved in conducting a needs analysis that starts with building some rapport and reducing relationship tension — this creates an environment that allows the prospect to open up and share needs, problems, challenges and opportunities. 

Here are some things the best B2B salespeople do to break the ice and get the needs flowing:

  1. Send a meeting confirmation email prior to the meeting and include the meeting agenda plus a link to personal positioning information like a LinkedIn profile.
  2. Focus the first ten minutes of an initial meeting with a new business prospect on building rapport.
  3. Start the meeting by asking the prospect easy-to-answer questions (hold off on hardball business questions at first).
  4. Review a personal marketing resume that explains how the salesperson does business.
  5. Discuss the agenda of the meeting and review the expectations of the meeting.

These things reduce the relationship tension that naturally exists between a new business prospect and a salesperson and opens the door for needs analysis probing. 

Simply put, a little work in this area will pay huge dividends later in the needs analysis meeting.

 Editor's Note: This post was originally published on February 27, 2013 and has been updated.

Topics: sales strategy Sales