Did you ever deliver a great sales pitch or demo in a first sales call that you felt really won over the Prospect only to find out later that they are no longer interested? I know the answer is of course, yes.
In many cases, it’s because the Prospect wasn’t really a qualified Buyer or their need did not match your offering. However, what if the Prospect was a qualified Buyer and the product did fit? You did your job. You followed your training and delivered a great sales pitch and/or demo and asked effective qualification questions in your first sales call with a Prospect. What more could you have done?
I believe we can evolve our sales communication in a first sales call to demonstrate increased empathy and more effective two-way communication to form a stronger connection with a Prospect. We can make stronger connections by sharing information through micro-stories and quick demo examples that are of the most relevance to a Prospect. Our communication should resemble a conversation, not a speech or stage performance. Science supports this communication approach.
When a Prospect comprehends and is engaged with the Seller the two brains actually begin to mirror each other, they don’t just align. It has been proven that if a communicator engages a listener in an interactive way and shares an engaging story a process called Neural Coupling occurs and more areas of our brain are activated.
According to neuroscientists Greg J. Stephens, Lauren J. Silbert, and Uri Hasson only when a listener comprehends and “participates” in a story without their mind wandering, will neural coupling occur between the speaker and listener where both parties brains mirror each other. The effect is broken when a listener’s mind wanders. i.e. “…interacting individuals are dynamically coupled rather than simply aligned.”
The following additional scientists state “A story activates parts in the brain that allow the listener to turn the story into their own ideas and experience, thanks to a process called neural coupling”. Gregoriou, G.G., Gotts, S.J., Zhou, H. & Desimone, R. (2009b)
Neuroscience teaches us that Sellers can establish and hold attention to form deeper connections by leading an empathetic and interactive two-way discussion that has the utmost relevance to the Prospect.
It’s also common sense that Prospects are people and people do not like to be talked at, they prefer to have a voice. People also get bored if they aren’t engaged in a conversation or if it lacks relevancy, minds wander and all is lost!
Below you will find eight recommendations for making stronger connections in first sales meetings to increase your success rate:
1. First, be aware that a successful first meeting for your Prospect is when they are able to assess:
Functionality: What does your offering do? What can it accomplish for them?
Value: How is your offering going to add incremental value within their specific organizations? What is the perceived general financial return and how long will it take?
Differentiation: How does your offering differ from your competitors and why should they buy it versus other choices?
Cost: General pricing information to determine if it is worth investing additional time exploring your offering based on their available or potential financial resources/budget.
Risk: How credible and reliable are the Sellers and the Company now and after the sale throughout the term of the contract? Are any other Companies or Prospects within my vertical industry I respect who are using the product?
2. Invest the time it takes to become highly proficient at communicating through exciting short stories on how your offering came about, how your offering/company is different and better than competitors, how your offering is delivering high value for comparable Prospects and how well your company is supporting clients.
3. Before an initial sales meeting understand the role/persona of the Prospect, take the time to visit their web site, understand the business they are in and try to locate online any current trends or news about their company you can converse about if it is relevant to your solution.
4. Once you have researched your Prospect custom tailor your conversation and/or product demonstration to make it as relevant as possible for the Prospect.
5. When in the first sales meeting, lead an interactive two-way conversation. Listen and identify what the Prospect most wants to know. Then answer the questions succinctly but by telling brief stories instead of delivering a one-way general sales pitch. Communicate passion and excitement as you answer their questions with your short stories.
6. Instead of pitching features, show the Prospect examples of use cases that are likely to be relevant for their business and then ask them if they are relevant or if they have any other concepts for how your offering might be used in their business.
7. Ask qualification questions to increase your knowledge of how well your solution fits for the Prospect and your company. If there are any open questions find out the specific requirements and validate inside your company that it still makes sense to proceed.
8. If qualified, close and obtain agreement on the next steps that satisfy your Prospect’s needs as well as your needs.