Getting that first appointment with a new business prospect is rarely an easy task.
In fact, there is usually a direct correlation between how long it takes to get an appointment and the spending potential of a prospect. Simply put, quality prospects take more time!
Because so many hours are spent persuading a prospect to meet, it makes sense to get the most out of the meeting. World-class salespeople use the first appointment to uncover business challenges that lead to cash, instead of wasting the opportunity pitching, pitching, pitching.
After getting comfortable and socializing a bit with the prospect during the opening minutes of the call, try the following steps to get the most out of the opportunity:
5 Ways to Make The Most of First Meetings
1. Let the prospect know you hope to walk away from the meeting with an assignment (a big problem the prospect will spend money to solve).
2. Demonstrate you know something about the prospect's business (based on your research).
3. Let the prospect know you prepared some questions, and the meeting will be about discovering their problems and discussing how to solve them—not about pitching, pitching, pitching.
4. Ask open-ended questions, and don't waste the prospect’s time asking questions you should know the answers to. (Research before the meeting will come in handy here).
5. First, seek to understand, and you will have plenty of time to be understood (to pitch your products and close a deal).
Pitching a proposal or dominating a first customer meeting with excessive product pitching are turnoffs that rarely lead to a second meeting!
These five tips seem pretty basic and obvious; unfortunately, they are ignored by many salespeople. Take them for a test drive the next time you have a first meeting with a new business prospect. You'll uncover more challenges that lead to cash, and solve more business problems that lead to a business partnership!
*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated.