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Setting the Stage for a Successful Sales Call

Let me ask you a question and please be
honest; doesn’t it bother you when the doorbell rings and someone has showed up
unannounced and tries to sell you something? I’m confident everyone reading
this agrees that’s not how you want to be approached. Then why do salespeople
do that to their business customers?
Salesperson – “Hi Pat. I was in the area and
thought I’d pop in to say hello. Do you have a few minutes to talk because I’d
love to tell you about…blah, blah, blah.”
All too often people agree to give up some
time because they don’t want to appear rude but here’s a newsflash for the
offensive salesperson – they aren’t
listening to you!
They’re wondering why they didn’t honestly tell you they
didn’t have time to see you and are counting the minutes until you leave.
Holding successful sales calls entails setting
the stage because you want to be in front of people who want to see you and
believe you might just be able to help them or their business.
So how do you set the stage? A little pre-call
planning and understanding psychology goes a long way.
Common courtesy dictates you contact a client
(current or potential) to find a date and time that works for both of you. I
always suggest doing this by phone because it allows you to inform them about
why you want to see them and find out if there are any things you should be
considering in advance.
Salesperson – “Hi Pat, it’s Jim. I was calling
to see if we could find a time when I could stop by. I’d like to find out how
things are going and share with you some things I think you’ll find very
interesting.”
A big reason to make this initial contact is
to give the client time to think about you, your company, and your product or
service.
Next, follow up immediately with an email
thanking them for their willingness to meet with you, confirming the date and
time, and giving them some information to look over and think about. Make sure
to ask them if they will look at it in advance because when they say yes, the
likelihood they will do it goes up. This approach taps into the principle of consistency
– people feel internal psychological pressure and external social pressure to
be consistent in what they say and do.
Salesperson – “Thanks for making time to see
me next Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. To get the most out of our time would you take a few
moments to look at the link below?”
Setting up the sales call like this also taps
into a psychological concept known as priming. Simply sharing information
beforehand can change how people think and behave.
Resend the original email on the day of the
sales call to remind the client of the time and ask if they’ve looked at the
information you shared. If they haven’t already they’re very likely to in
response to your email. Again, they don’t want to meet with you and not have
done what you asked.
As the meeting starts, again, thank them for
their time. Allow them the opportunity to share what’s on their mind before you
launch into your presentation.
After the meeting it’s always a good idea to
send a follow-up email. The reason for this email is to confirm any sale,
agreed upon next steps or action items. If you came away with a different
impression than the client this is the time miscommunication can be dealt with.
If you’re a salesperson I challenge you to try
this approach to a sales call. Clients and potential clients will appreciate
you respecting their time. You’ll also have the benefit of a much more
productive meeting because your contact will have had three or four
opportunities to think about your offer.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT® 
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

The Psychology of the Sales Cycle – Initial Meeting

Congratulations! Your prospecting efforts have paid off and you’ve set up your first meeting with the prospective client. Now comes the fun part because you’re going to start building relationships, selling and enjoying success.

First impressions matter and your initial contact will determine whether or not you go any further for several reasons:

  • Judging the book by its cover. Growing up we were told never to judge a book by its cover, but we do. Sometimes we do it consciously and sometimes it’s subconscious, but we all do it. Your prospect will do it too so leave nothing to chance. How you dress, act and prepare can make all the difference for that initial impression which happens in less than 30 seconds.
  • Do they want to do business? As you talk, beyond the initial judgment we just touched on, the prospect will be assessing many things as he/she decides whether or not to go forward.
  • Do you want to do business? The prospect isn’t the only one making a decision. Not every prospect is a potential fit for you and you should be assessing whether or not this is an individual or company you can, or want, to do business with.

There are two chief aims of this meeting: build rapport and ask enough questions to assess whether or not you can, or even want to, do business with this potential client.

Sales trainer and author Jeffrey Gitomer is fond of saying, “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with their friends. All things being not so equal, people still prefer to do business with their friends.” This goes to the heart of the principle of liking, which says people prefer to say, “Yes” to those they know and like.

Here’s a great example – ladies’ home parties. Whenever I ask an audience how many ladies have been to Tupperware, Mary Kay or Pampered Chef parties, nearly every female’s hand goes up. I can also tell by their reactions they don’t particularly want to go to those parties so I ask why they go. Inevitably they say, “Because a friend invited me.” They’d have no problem saying “No” to a stranger but when it’s a friend it’s hard to say “No.”

The more you put someone at ease, the more you offer genuine compliments and the more you connect over what you have in common, the more the other person will come to like you. But wait, there’s more! As you employ this strategy you will come to like them too and when they sense you really like them everything changes!

Another way to build rapport is to engage the principle of reciprocity. The reason this builds rapport is twofold. People feel positively towards those who give to them. Secondly, if what you give or share benefits them in some way they feel more positive towards and more indebted to return the favor. That’s effective use of this powerful principle of influence.

Here’s an example. Someone who went through one of my Principles of Persuasion Workshops gave his copy of Influence Science and Practice to a client’s son who was just starting out in business. He was amazed at the look on both of their faces and knew what he’d just done was appreciated and would make a difference in their relationship going forward.

Knowing what to give and what you can connect on or compliment requires some up front leg work. Doing a little research online and talking with people who know the prospect shouldn’t take much time and might be a goldmine of ideas on how to leverage both liking and reciprocity. Again, one major goal of the meeting is to have the opportunity to go to the next step in the sales process so building rapport is a must.

Next time we’ll look at the qualification process where you really begin to understand the prospect, his/her business and needs. Two principles of influence are especially helpful in this phase of the sales cycle.