You finally manage to achieve a slot of time to try and sell your product or service to one of your key targets.
You bring out the glossy leaflets, and launch into a slick and professional presentation.
You passionately extol the values of your company, explain your USP, and reel off some examples of your past successes.
Once concluded, the client promises to call if they ever need something…
You never speak again.
You probably already know this, but the aim of a first meeting should be to establish a relationship, not try the hard sell.
It's understandable to want to be prepared, and want to impress an important client, but using a professional presentation can actually prevent a relationship from forming. A relationship is as much about listening as talking.
You are also preventing one-on-one dialogue from taking place, and limiting the chances of establishing organic rapport. The client is too busy looking at your promotional material.
Another problem comes with the fact that you've changed the dynamic of the meeting from a discussion, to an impersonal sales pitch.
Lastly, your presentation will also prompt questions from your client, which is not what you want at all.
It should be you doing the questioning.
This is your chance to find out exactly what your client needs. Only then will you be able to tell them exactly how you can solve their problems.
What's the Alternative?
Instead of focussing the discussion on your company, simply give a quick summation of what you do, and then try to find out as much as you can about the client and the challenges he or she faces.
This will give natural opportunities to promote your company's services, without it becoming a one-way spiel.
Listening to problems – and then identifying examples of ways your company has helped others deal with the same issues before – will be far more effective.
Use Pencil Selling
A few sheets of paper can work wonders.
Draw out your points and ideas as you explain them. This will show you are thinking about their specific issues, and have detailed knowledge concerning the subject.
If possible, get them to join in using the paper to collaborate.
The key is to establish trust. Presentations and promotional materials can quickly build walls between you and your clients, so breaking these down will help you achieve more business.
Without trust, no one will reveal their secret business challenges to you.
Why Do We Feel the Need to Present to Clients?
Often, it's simply because the confidence and knowledge isn't present.
People often fail to trust themselves to remember key points, benefits and customer recommendations. Instead of learning these off by heart, they waste time writing and preparing a presentation.
Leaving these materials behind – and establishing real rapport – is the best way to transform potential clients into actual clients.