A Good Opening Is More Important than You Think

While it is true that many sales reps are often looking to hone their overall selling skills, Janek’s research shows that the importance of opening the sales interaction is often underestimated among sellers. Therefore this week’s blog will focus on the importance of opening sales interaction effectively.

The opening forms the foundation of every sales interaction. In many ways, the opening actually sets the stage for what will take place in that and future interactions while also assisting sales reps in establishing the right process to identify a client’s needs. Earning the right to even advance the sales process is critical and customers will make a decision in the early stages if they want to advance in the sales process or not. Consequently, it is also vital to ensure that the initial sales interaction is not minimized. Regardless of whether you are working with a longtime client or you are going into a first-time meeting with a prospect, how you handle the opening is crucial. Below are a few tips to keep in mind for guiding that all-important first interaction:

Research. As you are probably already aware, preparation is a critical element in the sales interaction. Therefore, it can pay off to take the time necessary to do your homework by investigating various industry trends, the performance and health of the company, and even the background of the client. The more information you have available at your disposal before the meeting even begins, the better equipped you will be.

Determine the objectives of the interaction. Once you have the necessary research information, you must then identify a clear and obtainable objective for the upcoming interaction. What is it that you want to accomplish? The importance of establishing an objective should not be underestimated. You must have a legitimate reason for even contacting the client or you run the risk of losing credibility. Studies have shown that calls without a legitimate business reason can result in precisely that. While you may be able to get away with a drop-by to touch base once or twice, any more than that may be viewed by the client as bothersome.

Develop an agenda. In identifying the objective of the interaction, you must also develop an agenda and determine what you are going to say. This could be providing a competitive comparison, a benefit statement, etc. It is imperative that the sales rep obtains the buy-in and acceptance from the client for these statements, as well as an agreement to the next steps. From this point, the sales rep will be able to move the process forward with the understanding and permission of the customer.

How you deliver the message matters. The delivery of your message is just as important as your message itself. When speaking on the phone, you must be conscious of your words as well as your inflection, diction, and tone. An in-person meeting requires that you make eye contact and dress appropriately based on the situation. It should be kept in mind that your poise, presence, attire, and body language can say a lot about you and your company before you ever speak. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.

Opening interactions with current clients. When working with current clients, there is a risk that regular appointments can become mundane or routine. Such interactions can end up being conducted without any real preparation or objective. In order to avoid this, sales reps should make a point to regularly update the status of the client’s account with such information as the health of the company, the types of products in the account, how the competition is impacting the client, and the status of the overall strategy for that customer.

In the end, what the client perceives is all that matters, and the client’s perception is what will determine where the interaction leads from the opening. By taking the time to prepare in advance and identify your objectives, you can earn the right to advance the sales process.