Ever go on a date, have a great time and wonder why you never hear from them again? Well, you probably are guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of a first date:
You talked all about yourself;
You didn’t ask your date about himself or herself;
You talked about your ex.
These same rules apply on your first meeting with a customer. You finally got that meeting with the big fish, the guy/girl you have had your eye one. THEY SAID YES!! You are so excited! Then you blew it… You spent the whole meeting telling the client how wonderful your product is. Or you just came back from sales training and are armed with all these amazing nuggets and can’t wait to tell them ALL to the customer. Ever been on date and they go on and on with a story, don’t pause or ask you questions, and instead deliver a monologue? Don’t be that date! It is even worse when you have a transformational technology and are so excited to tell them what it is and how it works without even finding out first if they are remotely interested.
Basic sales 101 is discovery, discovery, discovery. So many salespeople are so excited about their technology they are like an overwound windup toy and just jump in and go. Just like a date, people want to feel important, special, that you want to get to know them, and what is important to them. You wanted to go out with them, isn’t the point to get to know them better? You already know your stories; don’t you want to learn theirs?
Remember, he who talks most on the date had the better time. Make sure your date/client has the better time. Not only ask questions but be genuinely interested, read their 10K report, google their industry in the news to know trends, study the people you are meeting on LinkedIn, see who they follow on twitter. If you did that before a date it would be a little creepy, but in business it will show that you are there for them, not for you.
Trash talking your competition is just like talking about an ex. You should be putting your best foot forward and creating a positive impression. The competition usually has their own successful customer base and happy references to counter your arguments. Plus no one wants to work with a negative nelly - they want someone positive, interested, self-assured and compassionate. When I worked at Intel selling embedded processors to a very large imaging customer, the competition was AMD and Motorola. HP printers dominated the world at this point and were selling millions of units a year with each of our processors in it, so saying they were a bad choice would have backfired on us. Instead, by focusing on our strengths and why the partnership would be successful, made us a safer choice to the customer and we won the deal.
You worked so hard to get that first date, be prepared, be grateful, be curious, let your best self show up, and it may be the start of a beautiful relationship.
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