Doug Robinson, Robinson Training Solutions, LLC

first30seconds1A conversation contains interaction from two or more people, and so should a sales call. Those who tried it as a monologue should also add that they “used to be in sales.” Everyone knows that the most critical time in any conversation occurs when first impressions are formed. I recently read a research report that shows that a first impression is formed in the first 19-34 seconds of a meeting.

Despite the importance of first impressions, much of traditional sales training focuses on the end game; closing. Many believe that a strong close will lead to a sale, however, experience shows that the opening is far more important in determining the outcome than the closing. By creating a positive initial perception, your prospects will pay more attention to you and, as a result, trust you more.

Obviously, creating a positive primary perception in the mind of a buyer is critical to making a sale. There are six common ways that salespeople in general begin a presentation. Here’s a quick flyover:

1. Unsolicited Small Talk

“How about those Braves?”

2. Tie Down Questions

“If I could prove our service would reduce the Mosquitoes, you’d be interested, wouldn’t you?’

3. Feature Claims

“I want to see you to show you how my alarm system can eliminate your fear.”

4. Quality Claims

“Today I’d like to make the case why my company is known as the world’s best.”

5. Product, Service, or Company References

“We service three other homes on your street, so I would like to show you why they like us.”

6. Statement of Purpose

“My purpose for meeting today is to ask you a few questions to see if you have anything in common with your neighbors who are experiencing higher than normal electric bills.”

Of the six mentioned above most sales experts agree the statement of purpose is the most effective. It is a succinct phrase that gives your prospect a reason for getting together.

If you really want to master this concept, you can follow up the initial statement with something along the lines of, “Following our conversation, if we determine that I cannot help you, I’ll leave and won’t bother you any more, fair enough?” A statement like this encourages conversation, and opens the door to dialogue, which is the most important part of any sales relationship.

People eagerly buy what they need from salespeople who understand what they want. Needs are rational and based in fact, wants are emotional and based in feelings. Studies show that people don’t buy what they need, but they do buy what they need and want.

“Needs” are rational, above the surface, product-specific desires based on fact, whereas “wants” are below the surface, emotional, perception-based desires which aren’t always voiced.

If you don’t understand the “wants” mindset of your prospect, you can’t possibly understand their hidden psychological agenda. For example, when you’re selling to a self-employed individual you need to understand that they like to be independent and call their own shots.  On the other hand, an accountant is a different breed entirely; one who’s normally seeking a low risk solution to everything.

Here’s the takeaway: People buy more of what they need from people who understand what they really want and who sell to them in the way in which they want to be sold.

Studies have shown that if you make an equal number of sales attempts on “wants and needs” versus just “customer needs”, you will sell three times as often, your average sale will be 11% higher in dollars, and your sales efforts will require far less time.

Make sure you understand that your statement of purpose is only the beginning, Once this is established, it’s important to show your prospect that you understand what they want. The best way to accomplish that is with a connecting statement, designed to show your prospect that you understand what they want from the relationship you’re building with them.

Here’s an example:

“We’ve learned that when we help people get what they really want, everyone is happier, so that’s the way I’d like to work with you. Does that sound reasonable?”

first30seconds2Of course the opening of a sales presentation is only the beginning, but that’s a topic for another day.

Here’s a homework assignment. Considering what was just discussed, formulate both a statement of purpose and a connecting statement template. These can and should be customized for each sales call, but should serve as the basis for the first 30 seconds of your sales appointments. It’s a great way to say more with less!

Doug

©2013 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC