Brian Olson, founder and president of Power Pin, Inc., has worked in equipment sales for 30 years. He offers this advice to industry newcomers.
Before you meet a prospective customer, research the individual you’ll meet and the company. You’ll impress folks when you can rattle off specifications or knowledge about their products, and you’ll gain trust and confidence from the customer. Arrive 15 minutes before meetings. Dress professionally, and do not use crude language.
Take an interest in people. When you meet a customer prospect, ask them questions about themselves. Steer clear of overly personal questions about family when you’re getting acquainted. Instead, ask them where they are from and how long they’ve worked for their company. Note what you learn so that next time you see them, you can impress them with your memory! Everyone wants to feel important, and everyone has a story.
Do not discuss competitors or other companies that work with you. As far as customers know, they are the center of your universe and your only customer. Never, never reference another competitor using your product.
When you visit, keep it short and factual. Tell them that you know they are busy, you appreciate them taking the time to see you, and you intend to keep it brief. I learned this from a young guy on a call, and he wouldn’t stop talking—mainly about himself. After that, when he wanted to see this customer, the customer was always too busy.
Sales is like dating. Don’t move too quickly on the first date. Be patient and establish trust. Watch body language. If you see boredom, wrap it up. If the customer is engaged and continuing the conversation, take that as an invitation to stay longer.
Olson’s advice will appear in a series of Shortliner newsletters.
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