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bored-at-the-office-250x250.jpgIt never ceases to amaze me that when a person comes to see me, could be a sales person or interview, they have nothing to say when we first meet. I meet them from reception and whilst walking to the meeting room they spout out some gibberish, normally about the weather or the traffic. By the time I get to the room, I am bored and wondering if this person has anything interesting to tell me at all, in my mind I am thinking of all the important things I could be doing and wondering how quickly I can wrap this meeting up.

Top sales people do their homework, they know how important first impressions are and ensure they get it right by planning this part of the visit. In order to do it right they need lots of data about the person to look for clues for the discussion.

Social media

Social media is an awesome place to find out about the person you are meeting. You can find them on LinkedIn and see career history, have they worked at organisations you have already dealt with, any status updates of interest, hobbies, any mutual connections? LinkedIn even has an app that automatically checks your diary and the people you are meeting and serves it up to you on a plate! Twitter is also an amazing tool. If they tweet, do they have any recurring themes or are they following any particular interest groups. Facebook is a slightly more tricky medium, as some people separate the use of Facebook for personal use but if their profile is available then take a glance. It might be a bit quick to try to make friends on Facebook but they are probably more likely to accept to connect on LinkedIn.

Company website

The company website is another treasure trove of information. Not only can you research the prospects products and services to familiarise yourself with what they do, but quite often the client will have a news section so you can see any noteworthy successes they have recently achieved. Depending on the seniority of the person you are meeting, the website often has profiles of the senior team, who are taught to put personal details in (to show their human side) which is usually some home, hobbies or sports facts. So again here you have more clues and ammunition to have a better conversation.

In reception

Reception is the final place to garner a few more clues or consolidate your knowledge. Take a look at the brochures to see which products they are promoting plus any awards or trophy cabinets to see if they have won anything recently? Some organisations cut out news clippings and put them in a binder for visitors to read, so definitely worth a look if they have one. Also do they have magazines for their customers to read, what are they, does it provide clues to the type of customers they have.

Now when the customer arrives to collect you, you must have something better to talk about! I went out recently on a sales accompaniment to assist and coach a new sales person. When the prospect, who was the managing partner of the firm met us in reception and we started walking to the meeting I mentioned that there was a lovely Porsche parked in car park. He replied that it was his, and we spent several minutes on the way to the room and once we sat down talking about Porsches and other cars. We really built some rapport quickly.

After the call the salesperson commented on how quickly we got connected, how open the conversation was, and lucky I had commented on the car. I told him there was no luck involved. He had mentioned on social media that he was a member of the Porsche Drivers club, the car had his initials on the number plate and in reception several Porsche magazines!

What else was I going to talk about? The weather!

Do your homework, don’t waste the customers time and don’t lose the sale before the meeting!


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