Ever find yourself in this scenario?
You just met with a hot prospect who seemed eager and interested in learning about your product offerings—in fact, you were 99.9% sure you were on a path towards landed a new client. And why not? Your meeting went great. It was a slam dunk.
Or so it seemed.
Your prospect genuinely seemed to like you and your services seemed to be a great match for what he or she was looking for. However, you were unable to schedule a follow-up meeting to continue the selling process—and you’re not sure what happened.
We see this happen on occasion even to the best producers and advisors. At the PT Services Group, we help clients set first appointments with qualified prospects; but it’s up to them to follow through and schedule follow-up appointments until they finally close the sale.
As you know, you can rarely close a deal in a first meeting. It can take several appointments before a prospect is ready to buy. Somewhere along this process is typically where a breakdown occurs and why you are unable to convert that once-hot lead into a client.
There are a number of possible pitfalls to avoid during the first meeting with a client. Below are five of our top reasons why you may be unable to schedule subsequent meetings and what you can do to improve your chances of success.
1. You’re Not Listening: All of us, at times, may struggle with listening. One mistake you can make at your first appointment is just telling prospects everything you can do rather than listening to what the prospect actually needs. Sure, at times, it’s great to boast about everything your company does, the awards you have won, and your strengths over the competition.
But today’s buyers are more cautious about whom they will give their business to. They want to feel as they are entering into a long-term partnership. You can tell them all you want about your company, but in the end they want to know how you can help them. So it’s important to take the time to listen to your prospects.
We caution clients from their first appointment and beyond to not just “show up and throw up.” In other words, do not show up to each meeting and throw up everything you know instead of trying to understand everything going on in the prospect’s world. At your first meeting with the client (and even your 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th appointments), you’re not there to sell. If you spend too much time focused on your company and what you can do, instead of learning more about your prospect and their problems, you may never even get to a second appointment.
Solution: During your first appointment, it’s about getting to know your prospect’s wants, needs and problems and then explaining how you can help. Whether it takes one meeting, or 3 or 4 subsequent meetings, if you are listening to your prospect and truly understand what they are looking for, it should ultimately make closing the deal much simpler. Let them do most of the talking in the first few meetings and ask questions. Treat them like they are already a long-term client.
2. You’re Not Connecting: At that first appointment, it’s important to create some kind of rapport that can serve as the first steps in forming a relationship. Although we spend a great deal of time vetting a prospect for our client’s behalf, the onus is on the client to develop a bond with the prospect. You want them to feel like you are an expert and understand what you are doing so they can trust you. A prospect will not want to buy from someone they dislike; and you may not want to do business with a prospect you’re uncomfortable around.
Solution: Creating a bond and rapport with that prospect is often a result of what we discussed above—listening to your prospect. Once you understand their needs, explain how you can help. Talk about the solutions your company can offer them. Give examples of how you helped similar people. Also, review your notes on the prospect before the meeting and leverage your centers of influence to see if there’s any common link you share with the prospect (i.e. attended the same university, grew up in the same neighborhood, played a similar sport in high school or college, etc).
3. You’re Not Prepared: We make it simple for our clients and perform much of the upfront legwork. We’ll research the prospects and vet them thoroughly to ensure they are a highly qualified lead. We’ll even prepare a detailed report. Because our sales associates are highly trained, we can conduct in-depth market research and data gathering that are customized to meet our clients’ unique needs. But if a client neglects to follow through and read the report or learn a little about the prospect prior to the first appointment, that meeting can be more difficult than it needs to be.
Solution: No matter your selling process or approach to vetting prospects, be prepared and do some research before going to that first appointment—not 10 minutes prior to walking in on that meeting. Set aside an hour a few days before your first appointment to learn about the prospect. Then the day before your meeting, review your notes again. Showing the prospect how prepared you were will help the prospect trust you more.
4. You’re Not Following Up: Do you have a pipeline-management process—some sort of process that will help you keep in contact consistently with prospects throughout the entire selling process? Or are you only in contact with your prospects the day of your scheduled appointments?
Most of our clients are great at following up with their prospects. The most successful ones schedule a second appointment with the prospect before they leave the first meeting. But there are still a few in our world and in the sales world in general where we see no follow-up after the first appointment. You can never rely on just one appointment and expect to close the sale. It may take several meetings face-to-face and several emails and phone calls back and forth before they might be ready to sign a check.
Solution: Stay on top of your prospect’s mind. It is critical that you make contact afterwards. That doesn’t mean to bombard them with emails and phone calls every day until your next meeting. Rather, have a plan in place where you send a follow-up note after each of your appointments. Email or mail them your corporate marketing collateral. Send them any interesting articles related to their field that you may come across.
5. You’re Asking for the Sale Too Soon: As we stressed above, even thought you may have developed some good rapport with a prospect and you’ve provided them with a solution of how you can help meet their financial goals, don’t make the mistake of closing during that first meeting.
If you tell a prospect that you have a solution to their needs too soon, you’re going to come off as just a pushy salesperson. Don’t expect them to be ready to act on the first appointment other than to agree to meet again for specific reasons and next steps. You have to nurture this relationship from that very first appointment and be sure that this will become a partnership that will last long-term.
Solution: If you do not have one, be sure to develop a sales process in terms of strategy and tactics. You should have a plan before going into any of your appointments, whether it’s your first meeting, or the final one before closing the deal. By adhering to your company’s sales process, you should be able to overcome any common problems that arise. This sales process is not a meeting agenda. It’s about having a tight, disciplined process for what you do and how you do it. Equally important is your ability to communicate it—what you say and how you say it. Your prospects want clarity and desire to know and understand your expertise and solutions. At PT Services Group, we manage the first step of the process—evaluating and properly qualifying leads. But you’ll need a process for handling objects, recognizing warning signals during your meetings, etc.
Avoid these top mistakes and follow our solutions and your chances for turning those prospects into clients should improve. Let’s hear your thoughts. Have we left any mistakes out? Do you agree or disagree with any of our points? Just comment below.
The PT Services Group opens the door to new prospects and new business for the financial services and insurance industries. Since 1992, we have specialized in appointment setting, business intelligence, and data collection for these very unique industries. With locally hired sales associates, experienced in interacting with C-level executives and high-level decision makers, The PT Services Group uses proprietary techniques to break through screens and voice-verify business intelligence. Connect with us today to learn how we can open new doors for your business, or contact John Pojeta, our VP of Business Development, to discuss how The PT Services Group can benefit your business. 1-800-999-8995 | 1-412-471-8995 | info@ThePTServicesGroup.com