Someone once said that perceptions can’t be wrong because it’s a perception, an opinion and impression of someone else. However, perceptions are often wrong because if they were right, they would be called facts.
Whether we deserve it or not, we’re judged by every person that we connect with. The words that come out of our mouth firmly establish an imaginary tattoo on our forehead as we stand in front of a quality prospect.
Perception is everything, and how you’re seen by your team, prospects, and clients is a key to success. New research shows that you have 27 seconds to make a positive impression and 1 minute to prove value in any given situation. Like it or not, how you look, dress, and speak helps people to form an opinion of you.
Build Trust When First Meeting a Prospect
Tattoos (or perceptions) — both good and bad — that salespeople are often marked with from prospects vary greatly between:
- Time waster
- Pitch Man
Unknown salespeople don’t have the best reputation in the minds of new business prospects because of the less than honest actions of some sellers. An essential element to overcoming this hurdle is establishing trust and creating value during the first meeting with a prospect. Without that base of trust and proven value, we are glutton for punishment.
5 Questions to Build Trust and Value
1. Do you have an established sales process that builds trust and value from the first point of contact?
An established sales process includes:
- Connecting with people for the first time
- What you seek while you are in discovery mode
- How you share ideas and capabilities
- How you orchestrate buying and selling together with the prospect while both parties build a winning solution
- How you grow the relationship after the sale
Quality over quantity is not a new concept, but it is undoubtedly a well-proven one. Look for opportunities for more face-to-face interaction with new prospects and establish credibility for your first appointment.
2. Do you have Sales Enablement tools?
Sales enablement is the process of making your sales collateral work for you to enable the sales process while you, the ever-engaging sales hound, are not there. It’s designed to let the customer move at their own pace through a platform of content that describes both your products and how you handle the sales process. It’s tracked and helps you and the prospect identify a problem that you can solve.
3. When the prospect asks who else you work with in their category of business, do you stutter and stammer while trying to come up with an acceptable answer?
Sellers that readily have a handful of success stories and case studies to share bring confidence to highly qualified prospects. They need to know that you’ve done this before. So, show them! Trusted and valued sellers must project an experience of:
- I understand
- I have done this before
- I can achieve the same success with you
4. How easy is it to learn about you online?
We live in a society where we research online before we buy any product or service. We read through dozens of reviews, we look through social media channels, and browse through websites.
To establish your brand online, you can:
- Publish thought-leader content and educational blogs
- Create video commentary about what you do
- Have a well-presented LinkedIn profile that shows activity
- Display any media story that mentions how you can cover a lot of ground
5. Can you explain what you do and how you are relevant in less than minute?
Elevator pitches matter — take the time to write one. It’s your positioning statement for anyone considering doing business with you. It shouldn’t be a formalized statement that you think should be on a plaque in the office. Instead, make it significant, unique, and credible by considering what you want your tattoo to say.
It’s not easy to understand how other people perceive us. We're often uncertain or even completely unaware of what we project. And this lack of self-awareness can be career-limiting. There are several ways to make a great first impression on a prospect you just met. By answering these five questions, you're confidently providing valuable information while opening the door for captivating conversations.
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2019 and has since been update.