We’ve all been there. From first sight, you know it’s a match. But you have to convince the other person. So you ask them out for coffee, or lunch, or dinner. At first, they play hard to get. But you’re persistent, and finally, you secure that coveted first meeting: A sales call, of course.
Sound familiar? The same scenario often plays out in the lead-up to a first date.
Come to think of it, a first sales call has more in common with a first date than one might think. Both are vital, as they can set the tone for a long-term relationship. And yet, few people have mastered such meetings. As you prepare for a first meeting—be it with a potential customer, or a potential significant other—here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Be Honest.
It sounds so easy. But it’s just as easy to get overly excited about a potential match, go a little overboard, and exaggerate. In business, it might be that you talk glowingly about a new product or feature, one that doesn’t quite operate as well as you say it does. On a first date, a person might fib about their job title or income. No matter whether it’s a professional or personal gathering, not being honest is a recipe for disaster.
Your prospective customer or prospective significant other will find out, sooner or later, the truth. And, though it’s cliché, the foundation for any relationship is trust—and it’s better to be honest and up front now, rather than have someone feel like they were scammed later on. The person you’re selling too already knows your product isn’t perfect—nothing ever is— which is why it’s important to highlight your strengths, while still honestly answering any questions or concerns from your potential customer.
Many salespeople are too busy talking about their own product or company, that they miss how they can best help a potential customer. Perhaps you’re harping on the benefits of one product, but in reality another one of your company’s offerings is a better fit for the customer. You could lose the deal before that first meeting is finished. Listen carefully to the customer: What issues are they facing? How can your company help best solve those problems? Listening serves two purposes: it will help you make the most compelling case as to why this person needs your product, and it will also serve as a way to build a deeper connection. Just like in a first date, if the person feels like you understand them, they’re going to take more interest in you.
Both a first date and a first sales meeting should be about discovery. Good salespeople can close a deal even when there isn’t a good fit. But that shouldn’t be your mentality—because a customer that is unhappy further down the line is worse than one that doesn’t end up signing with you. A customer that does sign, but isn’t a fit, can become unprofitable, be a negative reference for your company, and hurt your momentum and morale as a business. And the last thing you want is a painful and messy breakup.