Yes, there’s likely a “Hello, how are you?” but almost immediately thereafter sales reps are into “game on” in first meetings.
Even consultative sellers begin their discovery questions the moment they break through prospecting’s fog and speak with a live person.
Although completing the consultative groundwork is necessary to sell persuasively, it’s often heavy handed and can stun or offend customers, when what reps are really trying to do is begin a mutually beneficial relationship.
It’s only after an authentic relationship begins that consultative maneuvers can be completed, which can then lead to selling persuasively (i.e. finding out what customers need/want and then presenting a customized solution to give them their needs/wants).
The trick to beginning successful sales relationships is to start off on the correct footing.
That’s done by stating the simple truth of the sales situation when you first meet customers, which is – you’d like to sell them something they need and/or want.
Of course you’ll couch that truth in whatever words you feel makes your customers comfortable.
But stick close to the simple truth. Too many sleight of hands and you’ve sunk yourself. After all, the truth is the truth.
This Strategy’s Benefits
First, by stating the bleeding obvious you’re demonstrating your openness and integrity.
Second, on selected occasions the simple truth is a great springboard for humor – a little levity eases social tension.
Third, customers can’t deny your truth, so you needn’t worry about rejection, at least for that opening salvo.
Lastly, customers can sniff out your sales patter even before it comes out of your mouth; they can tell by the slightly distracted look on your face as you wind up for your pitch, or your audible breathing on the phone.
So remove the elephant in the room and speak the simple truth first. Once that’s out of the way, you’re cleared for action towards fact finding and discovery on the road to a consultative sale.
Opportunities for the Simple Truth First
Consider the following situations and boil down your typical opening sales lines to your simple truth and try them out. Your customers will thank you for your honesty and brevity.
Face-to-face at association luncheons or trade shows – don’t beat around the bush, tell ’em your here to sell ’em. Then laugh and change the subject.
Live on the phone for the first time – after giving your name and company, ask them if you can give them a proposal. They’ll likely say no, but you expected that. So, move on to your other phone goals for that customer.
If you have to leave a message, what have you got to lose by making a joke of it?
Leave your name, company, number and that you desperately need them to call you back so you can hit your quota, make the President’s Club and go to Aruba with the prize money… then add that you’re kidding.
End your message saying you thought they wouldn’t believe that anyway, so you’d like a call back to explain your real reason.
Answering customers’ Requests for Proposal – just answer the question. Drop all the flowery purple prose that you think sells, such as “we’re the industry leader”, “our service is second to none”, or “we scour the universe to make your life perfect” – it doesn’t sell and customers can smell it.
Read each sentence of your response and if it doesn’t concretely and concisely answers the RFP question, then cut it.
It’s Basic, It’s Simple, It’s the Truth
Drop all the learned pretense about selling and try it some time: It’s refreshing, and effective too.