How to Get a Face-to-Face Meeting with Prospects

By Danny Wong

A salesperson has to be the type who never takes “no” for an answer from prospects, but even the most hard-working and diligent professionals can get discouraged after hearing it so often.

Sales calls have a tendency to drain the person who makes them – and, what’s worse, the caller often doesn’t realize the pressure and stress until it’s too late. If you or your team is having a difficult time pinning down face-to-face meetings in favor of these repetitive calls, you’re not alone. People have more reasons than ever to decline meetings, especially when they’re used to feeling afterwards like they only wasted their time.  

Establishing Credibility

This is one of the key ways to get a meeting with prospects, but the sales rep has precious little time to establish it. Salespeople need to come off as having done their homework either on what they’re selling or what the client needs (preferably on both).

It may not always be practical to do one of these tasks, especially because delving deep into a company’s particular problems before even making the call will take a lot of time. However, without saying at least a few things of substance that hit home with the potential client, there will be little chance of getting a “yes” to an in-person meeting.

Letting the Other Person Talk

A sales call doesn’t have to be all about showing off for prospects. In fact, the time to establish knowledge is right at the beginning of the call. At that point, the salesperson should be inviting the other party to fill in the gaps of that knowledge as quickly as possible so it can be determined if the next steps should be taken.

While there is no handbook (and shouldn’t be anyway) as to exactly how many words should be said or listened to by the salesperson, it is possible to practice the skills of knowing when to speed up, slow down, or drop particular topics out of a conversation. This is a matter of thinking through the problem while on the sales call, and then following through with a certain amount of confidence.

Speaking to Their Business

Social cues absolutely need to be a big part of sales calls, but observing them can be difficult when there’s no extra benefit of body language. That may be why 47 percent of people say they’ve lost a client due to a lack of face time with them.

For example, clients who can’t stop thinking about how ill prepared they are for their next meeting will be unable to concentrate on anything a sales rep has to say. Or, if a customer gets on a rambling train of thought, he or she may have a negative impression of the call (even if the salesperson was able to stay on topic). There needs to be a way to speak the other person’s language and control the call in a natural and organic manner. Much easier said than done, but the more work is done on this end, the easier it will become.

It’s Hard until It’s Not

Many of these tactics will be difficult, and there will be no one who doesn’t stumble at least a little. However, the more people practice making each sales call fresh and new, the easier it will get to actually make each sales call more fluid and more likely to lead to an in-person meeting.

There’s no doubt it’s worth it, though: 81 percent of businesses believe face-to-face meetings are pivotal ways of establishing real trust that lasts.

Asking Nicely

When it comes to the big ask at the end of the call, reps have to be assertive and confident – but not aggressive.

If the rep can read the situation with prospects correctly, he or she should be able to accurately predict the answer. If a call clearly isn’t going well, there may not be a need for a last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship by asking for a meeting. While there’s nothing wrong with persistence, if a client is clearly annoyed, unhappy, or bored, it may end up backfiring and closing down all communication entirely.

The Importance of the Follow-up

Once people get the meeting, sale, or major deal, they have a tendency to start devoting their efforts to other matters. This is not the time to start ignoring those who actually have said “yes” to further correspondence.

Sales is the thrill of the chase, but it’s also about maintaining relationships as much as trying to garner new ones. Sales reps may need to be coached a bit more on how to balance and use their face time wisely for best results.

Danny Wong is a marketing consultant, sales strategist, and writer. He supports marketing at Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. Connect with him on Twitter @dannywong1190.

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