Oscar Wilde once said “there is no second chance to make a good first impression”: in fact first impressions are very important especially if you work in sales. Statistics confirm that false starts lead to a 90% chance of not achieving any results, whereas a good start increases your chances of success by 50% . This is why our negotiating method “Sales Ethics” dedicates more time and attention to the phase traditionally known as “breaking the ice”. Let’s have a look at some techniques and tips to better manage these important first moments with your clients.
People have the power
Let us tell you a “secret”: during your first meetings with clients the best thing to do is not to treat them as such! Yes, you got it right,
in the initial stage, forget you want to sell anything and concentrate only on the person in front of you.
It might sound like a contradiction in a world where every moment without making money is lost, however we can assure you that the quickest way to make your potential clients tense up, is making them feel like “living wallets” with two arms and two legs, denying them attention and curiosity. Remember you are at the beginning of the confidence-building process – in fact if we refer to the circle of trust you are right at the early stage of distrust and skepticism – therefore be careful. To those of you who are more cynical and efficiency-driven, we would like to remind that being able to create a good relationship from the very beginning, investing time on people, also has an economic significance: whatever the outcome, a good first impression will strengthen your reputation and lay the foundations for future interactions; should the negotiation go through, things will be easier and more rewarding.
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You all know what happens in an orchestra a few moments before the concert starts, don’t you? The first violinist stands up and sets the tone in order to tune all the instruments to the same pitch. Now imagine that your clients or the people you are meeting are the first violinists and that you have to tune all the available instruments to their “pitch”. In other words your communication channels – verbal, vocal and visual – have to reflect and respect your interlocutors. Starting from the visual channel, which is the most important one, try to adapt your clothing, posture and manners to the situation. Use your voice with care trying to literally tune it to the pitch, volume and speed of the people in front of you. Listen to the key words they repeat or emphasize and use those same words as a gift, enriching your language with them. For those of you who opt for spontaneity and free expression at all costs: they are undoubtedly very worthy qualities, but remember you are there to make people feel comfortable, therefore try not to embarrass them with totally conflicting manners and style.
From chisel to blanket
There are two ways to cope with the ice: you can either break it or melt it. We suggest you adopt the second strategy, i.e. lay down your chisel and try to overcome the icy mistrust of people with a warm blanket made of a mix of interest and respect, listening and sincerity. Observe your interlocutors so as to understand if they are still rigid and distant or if they are slowly relaxing. Be patient and if your strategy doesn’t work then question it again without hesitation.
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Remember that the spotlight is not on yourself: the protagonists are the people in front of you, therefore leave them the stage and let them talk according to their rules, at least initially; there will be time later to guide them towards an agreement.
In Passodue we have the habit of checking who talked more during the first meetings and initial moments: data observation shows that when we talk more negotiations hardly move on, whereas if our interlocutors have more space our success rates increase.
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Selling is one of the most wonderful activities in the world because it allows you to meet a lot of people, connect with them, understand their needs and deepest desires trying to satisfy them by exposing yourself and the true value you can offer.
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In order to do it properly you need to love every aspect of human interaction and experience the most difficult moments of each exchange with spirit of service and feelings of discovery.
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That’s why in our opinion the three keywords for a successful first meeting are:
- truth – don’t pretend to be something you’re not and show the human being you have inside as well as the expert you are
- elegance – adopt a respectful style, take care of every detail and be punctual so as to make people feel comfortable and valued
- curiosity – as much as others may seem different or uninteresting, rest assured that they have much more in common with you than you might expect, including the excitement for this first meeting.
Smile all the time, a warm smile is the best way to melt even the most resistant ice!
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