Most people will agree that networking with peers is easier than breaking the ice with new clients.
After all, the key to networking is to show an interest in the person. This can be accomplished by asking questions. For instance, we can ask something as simple as where the person is from – to add to that we can ask where they are from originally. In today’s world, this can lead to some very long and interesting responses.
It seems that almost everyone likes it when another person takes an interest in learning more about them. This is also true of new clients. That is the key to being successful in sales. The focus should always be about the customer.
Planning is required
Unlike networking, which can be accomplished with very casual and impromptu questions, conversation starters used with clients should be well thought-out. Taking the time to plan ahead will provide better results. This means salespeople should put some effort into learning about clients or potential clients and their challenges before contacting them.
This is a proactive approach that gives the salesperson insight into what matters most to the client. In effect, this information is extremely empowering. If the salesperson is aware of trends taking place in the industry and ways the trends may be impacting the business, conversations can refer specifically to the customer’s current situation.
In addition, it is important to be aware of what the client’s competitors are doing. That, of course, can also have an impact on strategies the client will use in the immediate and near future.
Talking with a client for the first time can seem awkward. However, this is often the most critical stage of the relationship. During this meeting, it is important to make a good impression. One of the best ways to connect with a person during the initial meeting is to display confidence and also, have a gift for the client. Even a small gift, such as a notepad or post-it pad can help build a sense of connection.
It’s very common for salespeople to meet with clients on multiple occasions. Basic information about clients should be gathered and documented during each encounter.
For instance, notes from last month may show that Client A was contemplating the idea of rolling out a new line of products and Client B was going through reorganisation. This type of information can be very valuable.
Calls this month can reference that information. When specific and personalised information is used, clients know they have been remembered. They know they are receiving personalised treatment. As a salesperson, you are showing a true interest in that particular individual and company.
What to ask
When armed with the right information, the right questions will come naturally. For example, simply asking how things are coming along with the new line of products is a good way to open up a conversation with Client A. Client B can be asked what reorganisational changes have been made since the last conversation and if he or she is seeing the improvements expected.
After the client responds to the opening questions, the salesperson should then move on to questions that refer to the future. Clients can be asked what changes they want to see in the next three-to-six months or in the next year. They can also be asked what they believe has to happen in order make those changes a reality.
The answers to these questions let the salesperson see where they can fit into the picture. As the client speaks, ideas should be igniting in the salesperson’s head.
Taking the time and effort to use an individualized approach to conversation starters with clients will always result in better outcomes than using generic ice-breakers. Clients will notice and appreciate the added effort.
About the author: Debbie Allen is a professional writer who frequently shares tips and ideas from quality sites like Reputation.com.