Are You Getting Everything You Can Out of Your First Prospect Meeting?

Michele Warg
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After whittling down leads, sending countless emails, talking on the phone and arranging a time, you finally get to your first meeting with a sales prospect. Now it's time to bring your A game so you can close the deal once you talk to your potential customers face to face. Here are some tips to help you win the day and increase your sales.

Talk About Expectations

Tell your sales prospect what to expect during the first meeting. How long should the conversation last? What's the point of the meeting? Ask your potential client if there is anything that might cancel the session. Once you cover these bases, send your prospect an agenda to make sure everyone knows what should happen during the appointment.

Do Your Homework

Research your sales prospect to find common ground. Mine LinkedIn profiles to see what colleagues, colleges or previous employers you might have in common so you can start a conversation. Perform some light market research so you can identify what problems the client may face in the future since you're there to solve that problem for the prospect. Include the market research and problem-solving in the customized proposal you make for the client.

Form Relationships

Recognize that the first face-to-face pitch isn't about closing the deal, signing a contract or even talking about products. Your goal is to build a relationship with the customer once you walk in the door and shake hands. Focus on how you solve the problem of the client, and that starts with listening to someone else's concerns.

Get People Talking

In order to listen, you have to get your sales prospect to talk. Ask open-ended questions of the person in front you. "What's your gut feeling?" gives you clues as to how to proceed by alleviating someone's issues. "What reasons do you have for moving forward?" lets the other side think of rational items that can lead to a sale. Make mental notes on the answers you hear.

Find Three Facts

Once you listen to the conversation, you must find the answers to three critical questions during the meeting. Are you talking to someone who has the authority to make an investment in your product or service? Does this client have the financial clout to make the purchase? Does the sales prospect actually need your product or service? Once you get this information, use your customer relationship management software to follow up with the client.

Offer to Help

Think of the business transaction not as a deal but as a way to help a customer. Your CRM software can alert you as to when to contact the prospect following the primary meeting. Customize the CRM to the sales pitch you just made so you can take quick notes, have answers to questions handy and know what conversations you had during the session. The more details you have stored in your notes, the better points of contact you create during any follow-up contact. Remember, the sale doesn't usually happen on the first try.

You have to nurture each sales prospect to win over a new customer, but that process takes time. The first in-person encounter with your customer represents one crucial step in this process. Therefore, you should treat the initial meeting as if it is gold.

Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics at


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