“You only get one chance to make a positive first impression.”
If you heard that once, you heard it a million times from your mom when you were young.
It’s not only true in life, but in sales as well.
You get relatively few opportunities to interact in a meaningful way with your prospects throughout their entire buying cycle.
Therefore, when you are presented with the opportunity to engage with a prospect, whether it’s your first call or your 10th, they will have the reasonable expectation that they will learn something of value from you about your product or service that they couldn’t have harvested from the Internet themselves.
This means that whenever you interact with a prospect, it is essential to be prepared and leave nothing to chance. In this age when it is so difficult to establish and maintain any meaningful differentiation among products and services, buyers give additional weight to intangible criteria, such as trust, credibility, creativity, and flexibility, in order to make a choice among sellers.
To demonstrate these intangible qualities, make certain that each and every time you engage with your buyer that you have a plan in place to provide precisely the value he or she needs to advance to the next step in their buying process. Just like you, prospects have no time to waste.
I use a simple visualization technique to prepare for each sales call, whether it is in-person, online, or over the phone. Here are three easy visualization steps you can practice yourself and coach your sales people on to improve results.
1. Visualize a Desired Outcome for Each Sales Call
What is the outcome that you envision for the sales call? Based on the value that you will deliver during that call, define your desired outcome in terms of a concrete action(s) your prospect will take to move at least one step closer to making their decision.
2. Rehearse the Steps You Will Take During the Call
What is the process you will follow, or the series of steps you will take, that will result in the outcome you desire? Identify and practice the specific questions you will ask your prospect. Or, rehearse the presentation that you will give. Actually rehearse what you are going to say. Have a co-worker stand in for the prospect and do a short role-play where you practice asking your questions. Or, set aside some time in a sales meeting to make your pitch to colleagues. Get some feedback and make sure that everything you plan to say is clear and easy to understand.
3. Anticipate the Prospect’s Answers and Follow-on Questions
Visualize the “if-thens” that could occur during the sales call. Create a list of potential questions that they buyer might ask. Visualize how you will answer them. Also, envision the comments that your answers could elicit, and how you will respond to those. As I suggested above, role-play with colleagues or your manager. While it is impossible to anticipate with 100 percent accuracy every question your prospect might ask, you can be prepared for most of them.
Remember, success in sales is not driven by being able to think on your feet. Every important sales call requires preparation, not improvisation.