A big part of your sales success comes down to your very first meeting with prospects. How well you lead those first conversations determines whether prospects will want to have another meeting with you and keep the conversation going. That’s why you should get in the habit of following seven key steps to connect and inspire in your initial sales meetings, says Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Schultz’s seven ways to have more successful sales meetings that open the door to fruitful relationships.

1. Establish rapport early on. Unless the prospect wants to immediately talk business, start things off with some friendly conversation. Break the ice with small talk, make eye contact and chat with the buyer while you wait for any additional people to join the meeting, recommends Schultz.

2. Review the purpose for the meeting. To set the stage for a productive initial sales meeting, you should always review the meeting premise. Schultz says this allows you to remind the buyer about the previously agreed-to reason for the meeting and will help prevent the discussion from getting derailed.

3. Set a tentative agenda. You can help guide the discussion by saying something like, “I’m going to take 10 minutes to discuss these new products. Then we can spend the following 10 minutes or so talking. What we talk about will depend on your thoughts, but often we get to whether it’s possible to use these products for your purposes and what it might look like if you did.” Schultz says the key part is “often we get to,” because the power suggestion helps guide the discussion without completing dictating the agenda.

4. Ask your buyer to contribute to the agenda. Schultz recommends asking prospects if there is anything in particular they would like to cover. This allows you to hear what is on their mind and you can work to address their questions or concerns. Remember that the more you understand, the better you can customize the conversation.

5. Invite interruptions. Let the prospect know that you welcome feedback during the conversation. Encourage them to interrupt you. This lets you know that the buyer is engaged and prevents the discussion from being too one-sided.

6. Embrace the power of story. According to Schultz, the story is where the magic happens. A convincing story allows you to educate the buyer on new perspectives and ideas and inspire them to think about the situation differently.

7. Create discussion and collaboration. The last step to a successful initial sales meeting is inviting the buyer to weight in. Schultz recommends asking questions such as:

  • Would this work here?
  • How would this work here?
  • How would you compare this approach to what you’re doing now? What are the pluses and minuses as you see them?
  • How do you think we’d need to alter or change the approach to make this work here?
  • Why wouldn’t this work here? What could get in the way?

It takes significant effort to land a meeting with a prospect. You can start off on the right foot by following the seven steps above. Not only will you have more successful initial sales meetings, but you will build relationships that will have buyers wanting to work with you time and time again.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group, director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research and best-selling author of Insight Selling and Rainmaking Conversations.