Do you have an important sales opportunity coming up? If so, follow our 7 recommendations and we guarantee you’ll be ready to dazzle your potential client.

1 – Find out what you can about your prospect

Even before noting your next sales meeting in your diary, there’s a quality you need to fine-tune if you want to start off well: your powers of investigation. If you want to convince a potential client, then start by finding out who they are. What are their concerns? Which solutions can you provide them with to be top of mind in their sector?

A good place to begin is the “About us” section of their website. Also check out LinkedIn for information on the people you’re going to meet and their roles within the company. Find out what strengths and weaknesses shape their market, who their competitors are, and search Google to find news about them. You can then refer to these facts during the meeting.

Commit all the information you’ve found to memory, so that when you get to the meeting your client sees you take their needs seriously. You’ll make them feel important simply because you’ve managed to connect with them.

2 – Be concise and thorough

You don’t have much time to convince them that your solution is the one they’re looking for. You therefore need to be concise, and thorough. Remember it’s important to present specific data backed up by metrics. Your prospect wants to see achievable and realistic KPIs to feel confident about working with you. Demonstrate your company can meet its professional objectives within the agreed deadlines; citing successful experiences with other clients is the best reference they can have.

3 – Don’t present products. Offer solutions

Your potential client doesn’t want to listen to the numerous benefits of your product or service. They want to see that you understand their problem, and can provide a solution.

To do this, you need to know how to listen. When preparing the sales visit, follow the advice of John Barrows, one of the greatest mentors in the sales arena. Think of two or three open questions to ask the person in front of you to help get to know them, and identify their main concern for their company. This will encourage your potential client to open up and give you additional information to sharpen your sales proposal, adjusting it to their specific context.

4 – Don’t criticise the competition

This is your opportunity to shine, but not at the expense of others. If your client sees you criticising the competition, they’ll know your way of working is based on finding fault in others. They might also suspect that once the visit is over, you’re capable of doing the same to them.

Show them your company isn’t like that: that your proposal stands on its own merits because behind it is a team of professionals who work hard, and are committed to a job well done.

5 – Talk to them about their market

Your visit is more than a company meeting. Try to inform your customer about the problems that could come up in their market and how your company can help avert those risks. Do they need to reduce costs? Innovate? Broaden their market niche? This type of attention will help your potential client see your offer as an effective solution, based on a thorough, personalised investigation.

6 – Be honest

According to Collen Francis, the secret of establishing and maintaining credibility in the eyes of our clients boils down to one thing: never lying to them. And at ForceManager we totally agree. As sales people we need to be masters in the art of open, transparent communication, focusing our efforts on creating a positive experience. Only by being honest will we gain the confidence – and loyalty – of our clients.

Following on from this, here are two more useful pieces of advice: don’t make promises you can’t keep, and learn how to say ‘no’. Many sales people are afraid to say ‘no’ to potential clients for fear of losing the sales opportunity. If you know you can’t come up with what they’re asking for, then say so. You probably have alternative solutions that still make you their best option.

7 – Learn from experience

This type of meeting isn’t over once you’ve exchanged business cards and shaken hands. Note everything you’ve learned from being with the other person. The feedback is invaluable for improving future visits and for sales follow-up. With each meeting you’ll see other details to improve on. After all, it’s the lessons in life that make the difference.

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