The First Sales Conversation is The Most Important
By: Tom Heinmiller of Heinmiller Consulting. A seasoned fractional sales manager serving Dublin & Columbus, Ohio. His expertise is among Sales, Sales Training, Prospecting, and most importantly revenue growth for all companies he works with.
The first sales conversation is the most important part of the sales cycle. The fact is without the first conversation, nothing else can happen. This means, your sales team needs to be equipped with a strategy that provides a step-by-step plan for daily prospecting activities; activities that result in generating conversations.
You want to find, engage, and connect with prospects, and create opportunities for conversations every day. Whether you use cold calling, email, or social selling strategies, you must be prepared in advance for how you will handle these conversations. How you start the sales conversation is important; prospects will decide if they want to continue to listen to you in a matter of seconds. Sellers need to immediately make a real connection with buyers and prove they can bring solutions to the challenges the prospect is experiencing.
Rapport, Value, and a Relevant Call to Action
You need a sales methodology that includes rapport, value, and a relevant call to action. There are several ways to do this we recommend you start with an impact statement. The impact statement is a tool to use early in the sales process, to get the clients attention and establish your credibility. This usually begins with researching the customer – saying something like “I have done some initial research and noticed”….. This shows you tried to learn about his company.
In the early days of IBM, a great deal of emphasis was put on learning and using the Structured Sales Call. It began with establishing rapport and moving into the initial benefit statement, both are still important – but not in the way we were taught.
What is An Impact Statement
The concept was to get the buyers attention and gain credibility. You are told to establish credibility by discussing items you noticed in the office. This worked in the 50’s and 60’s but it will not work today. Today, if you want to keep the prospect engaged you need to talk about issues relevant to the buyer. These issues should include what other prospects have experienced when using your solutions. We suggest you do this by using what is called an impact statement. The intent is to establish yourself as a problem solver and emphasize that you create value for your clients. The structure looks something like this:
1. Include relevant pre-approach research information.
2. Provided general benefit your company has provided to similar companies.
3. Use positive language focused on what they will get.
4. Suggest similar benefits are possible for them.
5. Secure a meeting to advance the sale.
6. Keep it brief.
7. Why is it important to this prospect?