The dawn of the internet has changed the way that sales is conducted in the past 10 years, with many companies opting to close their deals through the means of email and online meeting rooms. However, in light of the new GDPR laws that came into effect as of the 25th May 2018, I predict that we’ll start to see a regression back to more traditional techniques such as exhibitions and face-to-face meetings.
It’s important to note that ‘regression’, in this case, is not a bad thing. In fact, according to a 2017 study published in the Harvard Business Review, a face-to-face meeting is 34 times more successful than an email. Why? Perhaps it’s because, in this digital age, it’s easy to forget that we are after all, still human. By building a personal connection with a prospect, we are encouraging them to trust us. We become more than a faceless entity behind a computer screen - we become something tangible.
In light of this, it’s never been more important to make sure that our face-to-face sales techniques are as polished as they can be. Luckily, the results speak for themselves and you can rest assured that your business will flourish if you take the time to visit your prospects.
Qualified Meeting = Quality Meeting:
In order to ensure that your prospect is worth the time and money you invest in a visit, it’s absolutely crucial that you qualify them prior to jumping in the car. Nobody wants to trek across the country to meet a potential client, only to be turfed out of the door after ten minutes.
By qualifying, what I mean is asking your prospect the right questions to uncover whether they are truly serious about using your services, and whether a business alignment exists between their requirements and your offering. For starters, you should have established your TAM and your PAM, as I covered in part 1 and the prospect should be graded accordingly. You should have also applied some of the techniques outlined in part 2, such as sending the prospect a capacity list, or even some samples of your work. Finally, you should have asked plenty of open questions and have gathered as much information about the prospect’s requirements as possible.
You can use any medium to arrange a meeting, although I strongly advise you to pick up the phone to have those initial conversations. If a face-to-face meeting is 34 times more effective than an email, then a telephone call will probably fall somewhere in the middle - it’s not quite as personal, but it’s surely much more so than text on a screen. If you’re not sure on the best way to approach a new company, then give part 3 a read to refresh your memory. Remember, although you’re not yet looking to close the deal, you still have an objective, meaning that you need to structure your conversation accordingly to get the best results.
Deliver in Person:
If you are skilled enough to have received a first order without any face-to-face contact, then why not deliver the goods in person? It’s a great way of putting faces to names without any pressure and - who knows - you may get invited in to have a chat about the client’s upcoming requirements.
Even if your contact with the buyer is limited upon your arrival, then in-person delivery of your first order shows that you’re truly invested in your customer’s happiness. It also gives the impression that your quality and reliability is not something you’re prepared to leave in the hands of a courier - instead, you would rather take time out of your day to ensure that the goods arrive promptly and intact.
Please note that this only applies to your first delivery - you don’t need to go making all of them yourself!
Conduct Yourself for Success:
Of course, once you’ve booked a meeting, it’s not enough to simply show up - you have to conduct yourself in a professional manner to leave the buyer impressed. Here are some important points to remember:
- If you’ve pre-booked a time to come and see a prospect, email them an agenda beforehand. Not only does it show that you’re competent, it also gives the prospect an idea of what you would like to discuss with them and plan accordingly.
- Make sure that you’ve done your research. If you fail to gain an understanding of the prospect’s needs ahead of time, then you might end up looking unprofessional on the day.
- Remember to exude confidence. This might sound trivial but in my experience, frequent eye contact and a firm handshake can be the difference between a good meeting and a bad one. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, then how can you expect the prospect to believe in you either?
- Let your ‘human’ side shine through. As I’ve mentioned previously, people buy from people, meaning that the topics discussed in your meeting don’t all have to focus around business. If you’re observant, you might be able to pick up on a few of the prospect’s interests by subtly glancing around their office. Conversations about sports, holidays or hobbies are all fair game, and a great way to build rapport.
- Have a list of questions prepared. The objective of the meeting is almost always to win the prospect’s business and by having a broad knowledge base, as well as a few stock questions to hand, you can be sure that you lead the meeting in the right direction to achieve this goal.
Once you’ve left the meeting, follow up with an email to thank your prospective client for their time, as well as to reiterate the next steps and anything agreed upon in the meeting. This is crucial to ensure that you aren’t forgotten the moment that you walk out of the door.
Your Place or Mine?:
Whilst visiting a prospect’s premises is great, inviting them to come to yours is even better. Why? Because you can showcase your capabilities and allow the buyer to see firsthand how you fit into their business strategy.
Before your visitor arrives, make sure that your workshop and office look tidy and presentable. It’s also really important that all of your staff are given a heads up about your meeting so that they’re ready to impress - not to mention leaving you undisturbed while you discuss new business.
Remember - You’re Almost There!
Arguably, the hardest part of the selling process is getting the buyer to commit to a time to see you. It’s fair to say that this is something of a ‘mini close’ - or at the very least, a strong buying signal. At the end of the day, your prospect must see something of an alignment with your services to even allow the meeting to go ahead in the first place.
Therefore, it may help to view the meeting as the last hurdle before welcoming them as a new client. Although not every meeting will yield instant results, many of them - if conducted well - will result in an initial order to try out your services. From there, you’ve only got to allow your quality and reliability to speak for themselves.
In the next instalment, find out about the sales cycle and how you can use it to even out your workload, whilst eliminating peaks & troughs.