Modern communication tools like email, chat and Skype are making face-to-face sales meetings less common than was the norm before. However, they haven’t become obsolete – in fact, they many never be. After all, nothing will ever replace the effect of sitting and talking to somebody across the same table.
Studies have found that in-person requests are 34 times more likely to be successful compared to those communicated via email. Plus, face-to-face meetings are likely to lead to an increase in corporate profits and revenues. Considering the importance of having face-to-face meetings in your sales process, it is important that you learn of the best practices to reap the maximum benefits.
The First Impression
It takes just a couple of seconds for anyone to have an impression of you when you first meet. Once they have decided what you are like, it may become extremely difficult for you to shake up this perception. If there’s any part of your face-to-face meeting you should be focusing on, it’s the first minute.
Carefully pick your clothes for the face-to-face meeting – it’s a huge part of your first impression. If visiting your prospect’s office, ask the person handling the logistics like arrival instructions, date and time what the dress code ought to be like. If meeting a prospect at an event, dress by the event’s clothing style – maybe it’s business casual or jeans and sneakers – to ensure that you and your prospect are wearing similar outfits.
Maybe you’re meeting the prospect at a coffee shop or restaurant; some social media research will help you get a sense of their style. If they usually dress up in a suit, lean towards formal wear. If they are always in flip-flops, they may probably be going for a laid-back time during the meal. If you’re still in doubt, it is better to appear overdressed than under.
There’s nothing as unprofessional as running late for a face-to-face meet up. However, arriving too early will not help you either – it might look like you are overly eager or your schedule is wide open, reducing your perceived power and influence. Try to make your arrival time somewhere between five to 10 minutes ahead of your agreed meeting time – this is what is called the sweet spot between “desperation” and “preparedness!”
If you’ll be making a presentation – even for a casual one of three people or for an entire purchasing committee – ask the organizers to give you access to the meeting room beforehand for setting up your equipment. Run your slides a couple of times, test lighting as well as acoustics, and make sure that your entire tech system is working.
Such preparations will help alleviate your stress levels as well as make you sound more confident. In addition, these steps will help you avoid embarrassment and or time-consuming issues during your presentation. It will also ensure that any cool graphics you added to your presentation using technologies like this tool render themselves properly.
Be polite to everyone you come across, from the security guard to the CEO. Most sales are lost just because a rep chose to be dismissive or considered somebody as “beneath” them. Prospects are likely to consider this type of rudeness as a sign that you may not be the best person to transact with.
Remember to acknowledge the receptionist, the prospect’s assistant and anyone else you are likely to interact with during the meeting. While it takes less than a second to say, “Thanks for your help, Jane,” it will be remembered.
When your prospect gets into the room, make sure you stand. The posture should always be excellent, making you look confident while your voice carries steadier and sure as well.
Make sure your handshake is firm, but not too tight. When you see their knuckles turn white or if they grimace, it’s time to loosen up.
Maintain Eye Contact
Sustaining eye contact shows power and poise. However, too much eye contact might be considered as creepy behavior. Try making eye contact with your prospect at least 60 to 70 percent of the time.
Nodding and smiling to the prospect’s comments usually makes them feel appreciated. When they crack a joke, laugh; when they make an excellent point, nod to show you agree; when they talk about bad news, frown; and when they compliment you, smile. This sounds basic, but stress makes people adopt a poker face, which may come off as unfriendly or cold – two words you wouldn’t want your prospect to associate you with.
Your Body Language
Subtly imitating your prospect’s body language is one sure way of looking like you are in harmony during the face-to-face meeting. In fact, body mirroring helps build rapport. Therefore, if they cross their arms, cross yours; when they lean forward, do the same; and if he or she tilts their head, tilt yours.
However, do not make it obvious. Instead, wait a couple of seconds before copying, and don’t copy every movement they make!
After the meeting – either on the same day or next morning – send your prospect and the person who facilitated the meeting a thank-you note. Expressing your appreciation for their hospitality and time shows that you’re a true professional and will treat them well should they decide to do business with you. In your note, let them know you are available to answer any concerns or questions.
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