Start Appointments Right (Part 1 In a 5-Part Series)
Here you go again. You walk into the appointment. Sit down. Shake hands. Mention the weather. Thank the buyer for the appointment. Say the same old things you say to everyone to “break the ice.” And awkwardly, abruptly move on to talk business.
You’re yawning right now just thinking about it.
You and every other salesperson out there is following this routine. It’s impersonal, stuffy, and hyper-formal. You’re following standard operating procedure, as far as you’re concerned. But where’s the personality in that? Where’s the style?
Over the next few posts, we’re going to replace this approach with a new one. But let’s lay the groundwork first. There are four things you must accomplish to start appointments right:
Generate instant credibility. In fact, this step starts to take shape before the meeting. The manner in which you set the appointment, kept the appointment, when you arrived for it, and how you dressed for it all played into your instant credibility. But also, in those first few moments (not even minutes), you’ve got to be clear and confident in your own mind about your right to be there and your purpose.
You’ll notice I’m not addressing what words you say yet. I’m addressing how you conduct yourself. You’ve got to have a certain authority about you. You’ve got to carry yourself in such a way that people know you know what you’re doing. It’s not arrogant or cocky, and it’s not the opposite of friendly or caring. But it is an “I’ve got this gig down” mindset.
Generate instant rapport. If you can’t hit it off with people in the first few moments, you’re likely done. You’ve got to have some extraordinary things to say to recover from no rapport-building…or the buyer better be in dire need of whatever you’re selling. Rapport will matter even more as our economy evolves and the Internet becomes completely embedded in our lives. It will be too easy for people to size each other’s offerings and companies up and compare them on their own time. Face-to-face meetings better offer something significant and personal to be worth the time.
We’ll dive into rapport-building more in follow-up posts, but suffice it to say for now that if you think you can just “get down to business,” you’re mistaken.
Generate curiosity. Peoples’ attention spans are shortening. You’ve got to be able to control a conversation with stimulating questions and comments virtually non-stop. Some say that every 30 seconds adults need something their brains can anchor to again to re-establish interest.
Your product or service or industry may be boring, but that doesn’t mean you can be in an appointment. Your best weapon here is framing. How you frame what you need to know from buyers about their organization, as well as what you offer them, is what will either move buyers beyond a “interested” to “curious,”…or not. By “framing,” I mean how you ask questions, not what you ask; how you preface comments, not the statement itself. It’s about the setup, about tone, and it’s about body language.
People become more curious about how you can help them as you frame and position yourself and what you offer in a more engaging way. More on this in future posts as well.
Keep the spotlight on the buyer. Above all else, you also succeed in generating rapport and curiosity when you put the focus on the buyer, personally, and his or her organization. Don’t endlessly boast about you and your company. You’ll be interesting yourself by being interested in them. Keep the focus on the buyer and you’ll have him or involved.
In order to be successful in face-to-face selling in the coming years, I’m convinced that these four areas have to be mastered in first appointments. Coming up over the next several days will be focus posts on each of these four areas.