Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Perfecting the Meet and Greet

Many sales today are won or lost in the first five minutes! There are many reasons why this is so, but poor business etiquette skills are to blame in a lot of cases. We all know that selling today is as cut-throat and bloodthirsty as it has ever been, with many salespeople spending their days relentlessly chasing their next pay check, commission, or accolade. Because of this many fundamentals are overlooked, including the important meet and greet. But simply being 'too busy' is no longer an excuse!
One of the most critically important and yet frequently overlooked aspects of selling is creating a solid foundation of trust and rapport. Practising and learning to relate to other people is not something a lot of salespeople are well educated in. In the sales game relating to others is the single most important success determinant, with the foundations being laid in the first five minutes. So what are the key areas of the meet and greet and how can we all become better at it?
First Impressions Count
When it comes to building trust and rapport in the sales environment, there is nothing more important than making a favourable first impression. You are being constantly scrutinised and factors such as appearance, attitude and time management are all part of your impressionable package. Always ensure you are well groomed, smiling and on time - nothing ruins a first impression more than tardiness and lateness.
Introduction and Handshake
When a handshake is offered it is impossible to avoid reaching within an arms length in distance. This automatically encroaches on the other person's personal space and many people are put out by this incursion and they become defensive. By invading their comfort zone you now have to face many of their defence mechanisms, but the best way to counter these is to use eye contact, body language and a tone a pace of voice that sets them at ease.
Remembering Names
A typical exchange of pleasantries will usually include name, occupation and then health and wellbeing. However, only seconds after the initial introduction most salespeople and customers cannot remember each other's names, so what hope do they have to remember them throughout the sales presentation. The two fundamental aspects of rapport building during the meet and greet process are the lowering of apprehension levels and attending to their name. Salespeople should focus as they greet people then listen closely to their name, repeating it in the next sentence in order to create an imprint.
Positive Environment
Customers obviously respond more favourably to positive experiences than negative ones. Therefore, it is the role of the salesperson to create a positive environment in which to 'exist' for the duration of the presentation. Enthusiasm, humour and stories are great fuel. It is important to realise that your actions and results are directly linked to your thoughts, so a positive pre-sale programming session might just be what you need to kick-start your positive energy again as you greet your customer.
Common Ground
The meet and greet is the sales warm up and it is here where you can establish common ground by discussing the weather, sports or a local news story. Also try to find out the other person's hobbies, awards or past accomplishments, for positive conversation on these topics will cement a good grounding for a business relationship.
Customers today have many options available to them and will turn to these if they do not find you to be likeable and trustworthy. Avoid leaving this backdoor open to your competition by developing strong relationships right from the outset.