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5 Things You Must Do in Every First Sales Conversation

blog author
Written by Erica Schultz
Chief Marketing Officer, RAIN Group

The first sales conversation with a new prospect can be tough. After all, prospects tend to distrust sales people, they're guarded with their information, and they're extremely busy. The fact that they agreed to meet with you in the first place is a great sign. But much of your selling success hinges on your ability to lead an effective first conversation and get them to agree to a second conversation with you.



I equate it to dating:

  • You know very little about the person sitting across the table. If you're going on a first date these days, you've certainly checked out your date's pictures and posts on Facebook to gain insight. In a sales situation, you also turn to the Web before your meeting. You read news items on their company website, "Google" the person you're meeting with, and check out their LinkedIn profile. But you know very little about what's important to them and why they decided to take the meeting.
  • There's much anxiety around the situation. Think back to any first date you had (for some of you this may be longer ago than for others). Think about how you felt-nervous, wanting to be liked, unsure how the evening will go. You experience many of the same emotions when meeting a prospect for the first time. You are often nervous, don't know where the conversation is headed, and are trying to make a connection with the person (after all, people buy from people they like).
  • First impressions count. Imagine your date walks up to the door wearing an old pair of jeans and a baseball cap and greats you with a, "Yo, what's up?" Now imagine a second date walking up who is well dressed, clean shaven, and carrying a bouquet of your favorite flowers (someone did his research on your Facebook page). Which date would you rather go on? In sales, first impressions also count. And it's not just how you present yourself, but what you present. Be professional, look professional, sound professional, and don't deliver a canned presentation in the first meeting (or in any meeting for that matter).
  • You want to make a connection. The first date is often about seeing if there's a connection and if you want to go on a second date. The first meeting with a prospect is very much the same. You (and the prospect) are sizing each other up to see if there is a good fit and if it's worthwhile to have a second conversation.

The goal of your first conversation is to engage the prospect enough so that they agree to a second conversation with you. If you do these five things in your meeting, you'll have a good chance of continuing the conversation and getting that second date.

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Topics: Sales Conversations