With the belief that time is becoming more valuable than money, one of the greatest challenges for salespeople is securing the first meeting with a prospect to convert leads into sales. With countless of others out there trying to close the same deal as you are, how do you stand out instead of being labeled as “just another typical salesperson”? To tackle the issue of constant rejection, cancellation and even no-shows, here are some tips to take into consideration:

  • Find someone mutual to make the initial introduction
    Utilize your contacts to make new connections for yourself. Social connections are powerful in forging an initial relationship with a prospect. This way, you are no longer a stranger but a friend of a friend and the prospect will be more likely to agree to a meeting.
  • Plan the call and alleviate the prospects’ fears
    It is important to have all the information you need on hand and also understand the prospects’ fears whenever they receive a call from a salesperson. To them, you may be just like any other salesperson that has called who wants to sell them something and ultimately, waste their time. Alleviate their fears by placing command in your voice and including a sense of urgency in your speaking. Let them know you understand that they are busy and that you will be respectful of the little time they have to spare.
  • Ask the right questions
    Ask quick, relevant and concise questions to understand the prospect’s needs as soon as possible. Always ask open-ended questions (using words like who, what, when, why, how). Close-ended questions will usually result in short or single-word answers.
  • Stay focused on making the appointment instead of selling the entire product/service over the phone
    Asking the right questions will help you understand their issues. Prioritize them and target the most appropriate one first. Find something to offer them that they will find difficult to resist and try to close the call. The main point is to make them realize they need your product/service.
  • Note the prospect’s reactions
    It is also important to assess the situation based on the prospect’s responses to determine how to close the call.If the prospect seems skeptical, keep the conversation going and figure out why he/she is feeling this way, while mentioning the possibility of a future meeting if those issues can be addressed.
    E.g. “If we could (action to create value for them), what would your thoughts be on having a short meeting to hear more?”If the prospect seems neutral, you should keep the conversation going and find out if there is enough interest for the next step.
    E.g. “What is your availability over the next few weeks to have a conversation with us about (offering to create value)?”If the prospect seems interested, similarly, keep the conversation going and make the prospect feel like setting an appointment will be worth his/her attention.
    E.g.”I would love to meet up with you to tell you more about (offering to create value). What is the best way to get on your calendar?”If the prospect is clearly interested, don’t beat around the bush. Ask for the meeting in as straightforward a way as possible.
    E.g. “When will be the most convenient time for you?”
  • Propose a short appointment time
    Most prospects are less resistant to appointments that take up a shorter time. Consider how much time you really need, and state that upfront. This reduces the level of commitment your prospects have and they will be more willing to meet you. Of course, make sure that you are able to stick to the stipulated time.
  • Do not give up on your first rejection
    If the prospect declines, do not ask why they are not interested as it will just reinforce the objection. Ask polite questions to determine why he/she said no. Ultimately, learn to live with rejection and to not take things too personally when people say no. Keep going and don’t give up due to minor setbacks, it can take several attempts to convince the prospect you are worth seeing.

Even with the same product/service offerings, the technique you use will lead to different results as to whether your prospect will even take the first step to find out more. While there is often no hard and fast rules, the above pointers are some inputs you could consider the next time you are attempting to score that first sales meeting.

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