Acing Your First Face-to-Face Customer Meeting
Are you making the most of your first face-to-face meetings with new customers? What are the best practices to make a great first impression, and how do you solidify that new relationship? Those are the questions that sales expert Geoffrey James sought to answer recently. Here's what you need to know.
James, writing in his Sales Source column for Inc. Magazine provided the following tips and lessons for that all important first meeting with your new customers. The following is a sampling of James' tips are:
Do your homework
Research the customer before the meeting. Internet searches and LinkedIn profiles are great for this.
Create an agenda
James recommends be five to seven questions that focus the conversation on the customer's needs, printed on your company's letterhead with the customer's full name spelled out. Have enough copies for everyone in the room.
Use the agenda to reveal requirements
"Think of the presentation as the torso of a skeleton, with the questions in the agenda as the spine and the resulting discussions as the ribs," James writes "Keep coming back to the agenda in order to reinforce the fact that the meeting is moving forward and that you are respecting the customer's time, relieving any anxiety that the customer might have about the meeting going on for too long."
Pace the conversation (don't overwhelm)
James advises frequent pauses in the discussion: "The average customer can listen to only three sentences before becoming overloaded. If you become an information fire hose, the customer will simply shut down." Also, make sure you listen when the customer talks.
Talk to everyone in the room
Don't just address the senior manager. Make eye contact with each person during the course of the discussion.
Discover the buying time-frame
Don't focus on customers who aren't really going to buy. To find out ask: "If I show you exactly what you're looking for at a reasonable price, what kind of time frame will it be for you to make a decision?" James advises.
Preempt objections you are reasonably certain of by admitting them before the customer brings them up. This will increase your credibility.
Never criticize a competitor
"If a competitor comes up, praise them honestly for what they do well, but then show the customer why it would be a better business decision to work with your company," James writes.
For more, click through to the full column here.