People tend to be automatically suspicious of anyone trying to sell them something. That’s why one of the primary goals of a salesperson is to form a bond with their potential customer and establish trust quickly. In this regard, it’s essential to make a good first impression with prospects, especially in face-to-face meetings.
Research shows that we make up our minds about a person within the first 30 seconds of meeting them—and that once that first impression has been formulated, it’s almost impossible to undo. Therefore, if your salespeople have trouble connecting with their prospects right from the start, then it will be difficult to convince them to buy anything, no matter how good their pitch or their product is.
To avoid that, here are three things that can help your salespeople make a good first impression.
1. Do Your Homework
A salesperson should never go into a meeting unprepared. Making sure they’re well-versed in your products and their presentation of them is an important step. But good preparation also means knowing about their potential customers.
Before going into a meeting, each salesperson should spend time researching the person they’re meeting with, as well as their company and industry.
What do they do? What’s important to them? They can even delve a little bit into the prospect and company’s respective social media presences. If a salesperson can find something they can use to connect with a prospect and achieve common ground, then the rest of the meeting will go a lot more smoothly.
2. Ask Questions
One of the keys to making a good first impression is to show genuine interest in any potential customer. This means using a consultative selling process and asking meaningful, intelligent questions. The research they did in the previous step can be very helpful in formulating questions that reach the prospect on a direct and personal level.
A lot of salespeople have set questions that they ask of all their potential customers, and anticipate specific answers that they can use to lead the conversation in a certain direction. This can come off as manipulative and uncaring, and should be avoided. Instead, your salespeople should ask open ended questions that allow the prospect to talk about issues that are important to them. They should also really listen to the responses and engage them in genuine conversation.
Selling is ultimately about helping a prospect solve a problem or fill a void, using a particular product or service. Asking questions helps to demonstrate that the salesperson isn’t just concerned with pushing their products or services. They’re actually interested in finding out what the problem or void is and helping the customer find the best way to address it.
3. Body Language
It’s said that much of human communication is non-verbal. What a person does and how they act speak volumes, and can either make or break your salespeople, no matter how carefully they choose their words.
When meeting a prospect for the first time, salespeople should project an air of confidence, but not arrogance. They should seem at ease in their surroundings, and friendly and personable, not just to the potential customer, but anyone else they may run into on the way in—receptionists, coworkers, etc.
Eye contact is key, along with a good, firm handshake. A friendly, confident smile can also go a long way towards establishing trust. Salespeople should also be neat, well-dressed, and well-groomed, anytime they’re representing your company to the public.
And above all, they should maintain good posture at all times, whether sitting or standing. Slouching or hunching over sends a message that they’re not fully engaged in what’s going on. It comes across as unprofessional and disrespectful. However, if they stand or sit up straight, square their shoulders, and hold their head high, they’ll not only project a better image, their diaphragm positioning will also help them speak more loudly and clearly, which makes them seem like someone worth listening to.
These are just a few of the things your salespeople can do in a face-to-face meeting with prospects to create a good first impression.
Make sure that your salespeople are using a buyer-focused selling process with each prospect or customer they interact with, and coach them to build rapport based on the person’s individual communication style.
IMPACT Selling teaches salespeople a straight-forward, easy-to-apply selling process that can be used to sell nearly any product or service, in a wide range of selling situations. The system is now available in an online learning format—putting award-winning sales effectiveness techniques right at your seller’s fingertips. Learn more.