Today’s customers are more demanding than ever. They do not have time for casual visits, idle chat and random suggestions. Today’s customers are sophisticated and well-educated, thanks in great part to the internet. Shared applications and solutions, problem solving and product information flow freely, easily accessible to everyone. Most prospects and customers do their research up front.
Our prospects often wear many hats, work longer hours and have greater expectations that at any time in the past. It is up to us as professional salespersons to offer significant value, providing both substantive and compelling reasons to allow us access to them and their precious time. When we get that open window of opportunity, we must be fully prepared to promptly get their attention and fulfill their needs if we are to count them among our customers. If we do not arrive prepared and tuned-in to their needs, offering great value, we are simply wasting our time and theirs. We may not get a second chance.
So what does this mean for the professional salesperson? We must do our homework. We must learn a significant amount of practical and factual information relative to our prospect and her company. What is her job, position and decision-making ability? What is their purpose? What is their position in the marketplace? Who are their competitors and how are they positioned? Are they successful and profitable? What is their business model? What is their marketing approach? What is restraining them from achieving additional growth? What market variables are currently affecting them? This kind of information is relatively easy to obtain from public companies, but smaller companies may provide an extended challenge. Small companies must be researched through their web site, their advertising, marketing, industry publications, customer base, their vendors, their employees and other avenues.
If I am seriously attempting to get that precious initial meeting with my prospect, I must successfully convince her gatekeeper or the prospect herself, that I am uniquely qualified to bring specific value to her and her company. I must get her attention. She must have strong, compelling evidence to warrant the surrender of a block of time from her day to answer questions and listen to my presentation. To successfully do that, I must become an expert on all aspects of her company and learn as much as possible about her positioning in particular.
Assuming that my prior work has paid off, I now have my appointment with my prospect. I have only mere seconds to make my positive extended-first impression upon her, otherwise everything I say will fall on deaf ears, if I have the opportunity to further speak at all. My initial statement must again get her attention! My initial statement must create an environment of great interest in every word that follows. In so stating it in this manner, she will know for certain that I have done my homework, I know her company well, I am familiar with their strategies and I have solid new ideas for their expanded profitability through my product or service offering. She would be foolish not to listen, and the foolish seldom rise to key positions in any organization.
Getting her attention is critical; otherwise, my visit will easily be lost in the mundane part of her day. I simply cannot afford to allow that to happen. The ideas I presented must stand-out. The old saying, “You only have one chance to make a good first impression” rings so true. Getting her attention is the first step in converting that prospect in a long-term, satisfied customer.