Development, Lead Generation, Marketing, Sales

5 Steps to Winning a Sales Meeting in the First 13 Minutes

Research indicates that just 0.78 percent of B2B leads convert into new customers. If you don’t understand the gravity of this situation, chances are you’re googling “B2B” to see what it means. But if you’re struggling to surmount the conversion obstacle, I can help.

 

The chief culprit is the quality of the first 13 minutes of the very first sales meeting. Those 13 minutes are where the deal is won or lost. Here are five steps to ensure you’re winning the client in that crucial timeframe:

 

1. Ask questions that you genuinely want answered.

 

Most salespeople ask questions to uncover pain points or unearth a need the customer has that their product or service can magically fill. This is the wrong approach. It’s manipulative and transparent. And, above all, you cannot ask questions to create a need or pain and successfully have a genuine conversation at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive. It’s not possible to respond well if you’re mulling over a planned spiel in your head. The prospect smells it every time. Engage.

 

Get curious about the prospect’s general industry, and research his specific business. And if you can do this without offending, try to ask at least one question that challenges your prospect’s thinking. Don’t cross any lines and ask anything that’s potentially insulting, but show that you’ve done enough research to bring new ideas to the table. 

 

Your prospect needs to know that you get it. And by “it,” I mean his industry and business. It’s impossible to do so unless you really prepare and listen. Even making one or two truly thoughtful points (unless they’re completely lacking nuance) will show that you did your homework. So practice, practice, practice.

 

2. Try to be less unlikable.

 

You may have heard that “people buy from people they like.” Wrong. It happens all the time, but your prospect doesn’t have to actively like you. He just won’t buy from someone he actively dislikes. So rather than become super likable, get the prospect to not actively dislike you.

 

Don’t try to build rapport with a stranger during the first two minutes of a call. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t just look fake — it is fake. Assume the prospect dislikes you because you’re a salesperson. Most prospects do. The mission must be to get him to dislike you less without being obvious by conjuring up something you have in common.

 

Be self-deprecating (if that’s your thing). Use phrases like “I know you know this” and “I’m sure I’m telling you something you already know” to assure your prospect that he won’t be getting a lecture filled with basic information.

 

Most importantly, have a real conversation. Make him think you’re not trying to sell him something because you’re not. You’re chatting, learning about the business, presenting your wares, and seeing where it goes.

 

3. Don’t change your personality.

 

When people get this wrong, it leads to spectacular implosions. Unless you’re looking to provide comedy for someone else, do your best to avoid it.

 

Salespeople (and you’ve seen this) for some reason turn into somebody else when they’re trying to sell something. Whether they’re asking the questions they think they should ask or presenting the story they think they should present, it’s a recipe for disaster.

 

You need to be agile in conversations, but that’s impossible when you’re stuck trying to be somebody else. You were hired for your personality, so don’t hide it. Just be you.

 

4. Don’t waste your time persuading the prospect.

 

If you notice you’re losing the sale, you lost it 10 minutes ago. Let’s say you’re pitching and the prospect isn’t interested. Maybe you push a little harder by asking a question that turns out to be dumb, making everyone uncomfortable. He gets annoyed. The wheels fall off. We’ve all been there.

 

Instead, when things aren’t working, say something like “Hey, it doesn’t seem like you’re interested. Am I misreading that?” Give him an out. He’ll tell you. Here’s the reality: You can’t persuade a prospect who isn’t interested in your services. Ask him about his business, tell him what you do, and if it’s not a fit, move on.

 

5. Make the process simple.

 

I get it. You sell a complicated solution that requires weeks (if not months) of data collection and the input of doctors, nurses, CFOs, clergy, and astrologists. Your product is fascinating, and you want to thoroughly explain how it’s going to revolutionize the way people chew gum.

 

But when you go too deep, your message gets muddied and people lose interest. Focus on what makes your offering unique and compelling. The greatest human motivators are simple concepts: love, fear, golf, etc.

 

So don’t overcomplicate your sales calls. Use these five strategies to win the first 13 minutes of the call and get that close rate past 0.8 percent.

 

Jeff Winters is founder and CEO of Sapper Consulting. It replaces cold calling for clients. It’s cooler than it sounds.

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