We all know that first impressions are truly lasting. That all-important initial meeting with a buyer can make or break the relationship in the long run. Here are some tips to help make that introduction a springboard for future success.
- Do your research
This is so obvious you might be insulted I even brought it up. But knowing you should do something and doing it habitually are two different things. A good rule of thumb is never waste the buyers time asking her something you should already know. Thanks to the plethora of information available online, you have no excuse for not thoroughly searching for everything there is to know about the company and the buyer.
- Respect the buyer’s time
Stick to the agree-upon time frame. Let’s say the buyer gives you 30 minutes. Some buyers will let you ramble on with your small talk for ten or fifteen minutes. But just because the buyer allows it, does not mean you get to increase your allotted time. 30 minutes is 30 minutes. If you’re foolish enough to burn up too time much on small talk, that’s your problem. Showing respect for a buyer’s time will separate you from the pack in the buyer’s mind. It’s up to you to manage the clock, not the buyer. Get to the point, leave on time, and you’ll make a very good first impression.
- Take lots of notes
Buyers love to see you taking notes. It is not rude or disrespectful to write while the buyer is talking. It’s amazing how many salespeople “wing it” and trust things to their memory. Buyers are not impressed by this technique. They know darn well you’ll be back next month asking the same questions and wasting their time because you didn’t write it down the first time.
- Do more listening than talking
Again, seems pretty basic but I know how salespeople think. Got to make the most of this opportunity, right? Thomas Jefferson said it’s better that something be well started than quickly finished. Think long term. Patience is essential to becoming a rainmaker salesperson. Another quote but this time from Blade Runner “the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”
- Don’t talk about yourself, your company, or your products
That’s right. You heard me. First meetings with buyers are not the time to present anything. You have to earn the right to present and much work still lies ahead. Nothing has more impact on your first impression with a buyer than making it clear you value his needs above your own.
First meetings are about three things: 1) making a good first impression; 2) learning as much as you can about the buyer and his preferences; 3) laying the groundwork for future interactions. Don’t fumble the ball because you can never get those opportunities back.