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Top 5 Conversations to Avoid in First Sales Meetings for Ultimate Success

Transform your sales strategy and skyrocket your success by eliminating these outdated first-meeting conversations.

In Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative, you will find a list of things you should not do in a first meeting. Many who read this book report that it improves their sales approach and that, by removing outdated approaches, they have an easier time confirming a second meeting.

It is an act of courage to walk away from what you have always done and replace it with something new. If you want to improve your selling, follow these five rules in your first meeting with a prospective client.

  1. You may not mention your company's name. Your contact already knows your company's name and what your company does. If they want to know more, your contact can easily find basic information by pulling up your website. Telling them about it in a first meeting creates no value for your contacts.
  2. You must not mention any of your clients, including any testimonial or results you provided them. A slide deck with a list of your largest clients' logos may be impressive to some, but most buyers don't need references until they are seriously considering buying from you. The truth is that your contact was hoping you would be interested in their company. Being interested in the client can do more to help you add their logo to your trophy case than showing off your other clients.
  3. You are prohibited from mentioning your products, your service, or your solution. The problem with talking about what you sell is that it makes the client feel you are pitching prematurely. What is equally true is that this approach is too transactional in our era of decision-making. The longer you wait to start talking about solutions, the greater your odds of winning the client's business.
  4. No personal rapport building. When you called your prospective client and asked them for a meeting, they believed you were interested in helping them solve a problem or improving some important results they are struggling with. Your contact wasn't hoping to find a new best friend. Trying too hard to build personal rapport can cause your contact to believe you are a time waster. Once you prove you will take too much time without creating value, your chances of getting a second meeting vanish.
  5. You may not ask questions to elicit the client's problem, dissatisfaction, or their pain points or hot buttons. Any version of "what's keeping you up at night" will lower your sales status. You will disappoint your contact by not already knowing more about their problems than they do. Your prospective client is looking for an expert and an authority.

Recognizing Ineffective Sales Conversations

It is important that you recognize that these conversations have lost the ability to create value for your contacts. They have lost their effectiveness because your contact is only two clicks away from your company's website. Before the internet, your contacts needed salespeople to provide basic information in first meetings, but now they know that when you walk in the door. When you and your client know the same things, we call it information parity.

If you want to create value for contacts, you need to create information disparity. Imagine you know something so well you could recite it in your sleep. Your friend starts to tell you all about it as though they’re doing a book report. Would you find that to be a riveting conversation? Another friend shows up and begins sharing something that you didn't know about something important to you. You find this valuable because you didn't have the information before.

Modern Sales Methodology in Action

When I walked into the conference room, there were three contacts and the decision-maker. He looked at me and said, “Tell me about your company and what you guys do.” I said, “I am afraid that would be a waste of your time.” He tried again and responded, “The best way to know about us is for me to tell you what we care about, followed by a number of insights.” After one hour and seven minutes, the decision-maker thanked me and walked out of the room. The contact sitting across from me asked, "How did you keep him in the room for over an hour? He has never spent more than five minutes with a salesperson."

One of my clients had a salesperson who was preparing a slide deck to pitch a client who would bring in $5,000,000 annual revenue. As he prepared, I offered the advice to skinny down the 99 slides. The salesperson had 90 minutes with the five stakeholders who would choose their partner. The CEO of the sales organization joined the salesperson in the meeting. He reported to me that the salesperson presented all 99 slides. When he ran out of slides, he asked the contacts if they had any questions. The senior leader said, “We have a lot of questions, but I am afraid you are out of time.”

These two stories explain why one salesperson is able to win clients over their rivals. In this environment, your contacts need a better sales approach—what we call a modern sales approach. If you are still practicing an outdated approach, winning now and in the future will require you to transform your sales approach.

When all you have is a conversation, you must ensure it creates value for your contacts and their stakeholders. Any attempt to sell without providing a valuable buying experience will lead to failure. This is true no matter how great your company is or how much better your solution is than what your competitor is offering.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 8, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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