Why The Beginning Of A Sales Meeting Is Much More Important Than The End
Every time a one on one sales conversation ends in rejection, it really can be quite frustrating. It is totally natural to think back over the full appointment to determine where it went off the rails.
Did I say something wrong or offensive?
Did I appear overly pushy at the closing?
Was I too passive?
Most sales consultants replay the appointment in their heads and genuinely think the sale should have been dropped somewhere at the closing — after all that is the section of a sales appointment when the prospect provides their choice. But the last minutes of a sales conversation are not necessarily where prospects make their decision.
The reality is, sales are rarely ever lost at the closing. They are generally always lost from something that went wrong in the start.
If you would like to finish the appointment by selling your product or program — or whatever your next step is, you need to start strong. However, when you do not start off strong, Here is what happens:
1. WRONG BEGINNING…
When a prospect decides to hire you, what are they buying? Your product? Your program?
Sure, but only to a degree. When a prospect hires you, they’re really buying certainty.
Ultimately, certainty is a combination of clarity and confidence.
· Clarity of where you’ll take them
· Confidence that you’ll actually get them there
If the sales appointment starts off on the wrong foot, what happens to their level of certainty in you? It plummets! Without a strong start, the sales appointment could very well end in a new friendship, but it rarely ends in a new client relationship.
Rather than a false start, we have to get off to a flying start. We must jump from the starting gate and let them know we are the guy (or girl) with a strategy. When a prospect sees you starting strong, they will immediately know this conversation differs from any other they have had.
2. TAKEN OFF TRACK…
In every sales appointment, someone leads and someone follows. In case it’s not painfully obvious, the person leading the conversation should be YOU.
If you don’t start strong by taking the lead, you can’t steer the conversation where you want it to go. Obviously, by ‘steering’ the conversation, I don’t mean manipulating or pushing prospects in a direction they don’t want to go — I’m talking about leading them. There’s a big energy difference here.
In the event you do not begin powerful by taking the lead, the conversation can go off track. You can have a lot of interesting conversations this way, but they probably won’t end up where you wanted them to.
I had a conversation with a sales consultant before and anytime a dialogue with a prospect would veer off track, he would say, “You know I have got this rule that we can have conversations that are interesting, or conversations that are useful, but not both. Is this useful, or is this just interesting? If it’s just interesting, let’s get back on track.”
We want to set up the conversation so that it stays on track the entire time. If you don’t get this right in the first three minutes, the conversation will go off track for the rest of the appointment.
Selling is a leadership game. The biggest mistake you could make is to be passive, and wait for them to give you the solution.
You’re the man or woman with the solution. Your job is to lead, their job is to follow. Since most people are silently begging to be led, when you get this right, you’ll just lead and your prospects will happily follow along.
Lastly, when you do not start powerful, you can get resistance from your prospect. In case you ever notice that a prospect is pushing back, understand it’s probably because they believe you pushed them first.
When we start strong, our prospects become willing participants. At the start of the dialogue, we need to tell them the strategy and have them buy into it. This frames the conversation in such a way that they feel like they’re in control. When they feel like they’re in control, they don’t feel the need to resist or exert that control. Then you can take the conversation where you want it to go.
You always must remember the most important part of the sales conversation is the initial three to five minutes. This time period is essential since it forms the basis of the whole conversation.
When you get this correct and start off powerful, the rest of the appointment flows simpler than ever and almost always ends in a sale.