It is rare that a business-to-business transaction can be closed without an in-person meeting. The more complex the sale, the more meetings are needed to reach a conclusion. And without the first meeting, there’s little or no hope of doing business. Even with an introduction, initial meetings can be elusive. Why?
Prospects’ Unspoken Fears
A typical purchaser of business services has two phobias about initially meeting with a “sales person”. If you’re aware of these, you can significantly increase your chances of booking that first meeting. The two phobias are:
This person is going to waste my time
This person is going to pitch me on something that I don’t need or want
Worse than Death?
In the film Love and Death, Woody Allen shares these same fears:
“There are worse things in life than death. I mean, if you’ve ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman, you know exactly what I mean.“
Have you ever been subjected to a life insurance sales person helping you face your mortality, or a pitchman who doesn’t know when to quit? You try to send a signal by looking at your watch. But it doesn’t help.
When you’re doing the pitching, your enthusiasm can be blinding. When under the spell of enthusiasm, you are all-too-often oblivious to the effect you’re having. Allow me to help.
There are two descriptions for what I call pitching without permission. Both involve the up-chuck which hopefully will help your self awareness.
- Puking on your prospect
- Show up and throw up
Don’t be that person! To paraphrase the late author and sales trainer Bill Brooks:
NEVER sell, present or demonstrate until your prospect tells you they want something.
Break this commandment and you’re barfing. Or, making a mess of your sales process that may be impossible to clean up.
Addressing Their Phobia: A Preemptive Promise
To overcome the two aforementioned pre-meeting phobias, what promises should you make to your prospect? It’s simple when you know and respect their fears. Here’s a sample script:
“When we get together, I promise that I won’t waste your time or pitch you in any way. And if you sense that’s happening, I want you to call me one that. Can you do that?”
Make the promise. Keep the promise. DON’T pitch without permission! That first meeting must serve to discover needs and wants. Discovery will not occur while you are talking. Or, as I once told an audience in a Johnny Cochran inspired moment:
Until you’re granted permission,when you SELL you REPEL.
Promise you won’t be that person. It will help your cause.