When a sales appointment doesn’t end with conversion, most coaches think there was a problem with the way they closed. They believe they must have done something wrong at the end or they’d have a new client.
The thing is, sales are almost never lost at the close — they’re lost at the very beginning.
On the last post, we introduced how important the first three to five minutes of a sales appointment are to making a sale at the end. When you don’t start strong, prospects can resist, take the meeting off track, or lose confidence that you can take them where they want to go.
The way you start a sales conversation determines how it will end, so you have to start strong!
Right now, we’ll take a deep look into the first key to getting those beginning, crucial moments of a sales conversation just right.
Before the sales conversation even starts, you need to understand that you’re in the driver’s seat — not the passenger’s seat, not the back seat, and certainly not in the boot or trunk.
The reason your prospects come to you in the first place is that they have a problem and they have no idea how to fix it. Yes, they’re looking to you for a solution, but they’re also looking to you for leadership.
Imagine you’re the head coach of one of the top football teams in the country. You and your team walk out onto the field and you gather everyone around you. Then, you say, “Uh, well guys… what do you think we should do here?
That might be the quickest way to lose the confidence of everyone around you. Without a plan, what good are you to the team?
You need to be on the front foot. You need to drive. You need to lead.
Instead of asking for suggestions, what if you looked at your team and said, “Guys, I’m so glad you’re here. This is the opponent. Here’s what they’re thinking. Here’s their tactic. Here’s what we know about them. But we’re much better, and here’s why: we’re going to get out there and do A, B, and C…”
Now you’re leading.
If you come up with a plan, your prospects will eat it up. They’re begging to be led, so get out of the passenger’s seat and into the driver’s seat where you can lead them.
To really take charge of this meeting, the first thing you need to do is build rapport.
Rapport is defined as a relationship of trust and responsiveness. To make it simple (and easy to remember), think of it like this:
Rapport = Trust + Responsiveness.
When most people attempt to build rapport, they try to earn someone’s trust and ask for responsiveness. They ‘earn and ask’ it to be respectful, but it comes across as too timid or passive.
You’re a leader, not a follower, and leaders don’t try to slowly earn trust or timidly ask for responsiveness. They assume trust and demand responsiveness.
In an earlier post on increasing audience engagement in webinars, I talked about a little activity I do at the beginning of some events.
When I first walk out, I say, “Thanks so much for having me, I’m so happy to be here. Right now, I’d like everyone to raise their right hand.”
I raise my hand and watch as people gradually raise their hands. I even gesture upwards with my left hand to encourage everyone in the room to get their hand up.
Then I say, “Now I want you to wave it around like you just don’t care.”
Everyone starts to awkwardly wave their hands.
“Take your hand and put it on the shoulder of the person next to you. Now give them a little shake and say, ‘Oh crap, he’s interactive.’”
At this point, I see a lot of smiles and hear laughter around the room, so I say something like, “Thanks everybody for playing along and being good sports. We’re going to have a lot of fun today. Let’s get into it.”
What have I done there? I’ve assumed trust and demanded responsiveness. In the first 20 seconds, I’ve established who’s leading the event. We want to use this same concept in the sales conversation.
Right at the beginning of the sales appointment, you’ll build rapport, but you won’t spend hours on this (and please don’t ask them to do the hand raising routine — it’ll be really uncomfortable for both you and them). You’re just going to have a quick conversation, “Great. How do we come to be on the phone today?”
Just by asking this short, direct question and expecting a reply, you’re building rapport right from the start. You’re assuming trust and demanding a response.
Then, they’ll respond, and you’ll say, “Fantastic. I’m really excited about this session and I’ve got some great stuff planned. Let’s get started.”
The moment you say, “Let’s get started,” you’re really saying, “I’m the driver. Trust me, it’s going to be fun. Come with me and we’ll have a good time.”
So, the first key to starting strong in a sales appointment is to drive. Don’t follow. Lead.
Share yor thoughts on this. Comment below.
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