No moment in sales is more powerful than meeting a new potential client for the first time, it’s like being a superhero, you get to create an image that you are the best sales-hero in metropolis.
…or you can blow it royally and leave the client thinking you suck at selling.
Part of my work is shadowing sales people on their beats, and have seen firsthand how helpful this exercise is.
Next time you have a first-time client meeting fall flat, have your shadow-partner run this checklist afterwards to see where you may have erred.
This is compiled from my top ten most annoying things sales people do to shoot themselves in the foot, err, spandex at the first meeting with a new client.
If you check off a "yes" on more than 5 of these, your sales-buddy likely turned the client off.
1. Show up late? In Japan, if your meeting time is scheduled for 15PM, you are supposed to be there by 14:50 to 14:55PM, no later. Please spare me the “oh, I don’t want to look desperate by being early”, hey, I will take desperate over RUDE any day. Leave your office early, have the phone number ready, call if you will be late for any length of time.
2. Jump right into the outline of your company and service, ignoring the client’s polite chatter?
3. Cut the client off when they were talking, more than once?
4. Assume clients were “broken” before listening to see if they had issues? Don’t assume problems, some clients are doing fine, but they want to do BETTER.
5. Forget to have something of value to give to the potential customer?
6. Stink? It’s hot I know, get a compact deodorant stick, cotton hand towel, toothbrush kit for your bag, pop into a bathroom and refresh before meetings. Stop smoking in between meetings, or better yet, just stop smoking all together.
7. Have ugly, old company materials that only talk about your methods not previous client outcomes? Clients don’t care about what YOU say about your service, they care about what OTHER PEOPLE say.
8. Forget to ask the client for some of their objectives and goals this year? If you feel such topics are “above your head”, then you need to work with a shorter company, stay positive, your work is important.
9. Ninja-flip a pen or repeat some odd action throughout the meeting? I am impressed by some people’s ability to spin a pen from their knuckles, around their neck, off their left foot and back to their notepad, but c’mon it’s distracting, stop it, sit still and listen.
10. Forget to get a commitment on the next steps, meeting to propose ideas for solutions, delivery dates, compatibility analysis etc? If you don’t ask for a next meeting time to close something, get a contract signed, meet the head of whatever, get feedback on the proposal etc, than you have lost a key chance to move forward or learn they don’t really want to/can’t buy anything at all.
Sales people are irritated when clients want to see proposals or price sheets, but then never return calls.
Don’t blame the client, blame yourself for not asking pertinent questions and asking to proceed to next steps. The worst thing a client can say is no.
Keep smiling and keep trying, selling is an art not a science.
Other posts by Jason de Luca: