The days of easy sales are long gone. Every corner of the world is connected now and competition can reach out to all your existing and potential clientele with a click of a mouse. There’s so much competition out there gunning for the same clients you are.

Salespeople have to do everything they can to follow up on, and capture leads with the utmost efficiency possible. The most crucial step of all is getting that first interaction with a potential client right. Get this step done right and it will be (mostly) smooth sailing from then onward.

3 tips for nailing that first sales meeting with a new client

1. First meetings aren’t for closers — they’re for relationship building.

In other words, you’re not there to close them on a multi-thousand dollar contract. That is, unless they specifically tell you they want to close a deal leading up to, or at the meeting itself. This first meeting is a meet and greet only. A feeling out process where they get a sense of who you are, and you get to gently probe them for information about their needs and wants.

Don’t succumb to PPD (Premature Presentation Disorder) — it kills more dreams than cancer!

Have you ever heard that only 1 in 50 deals ever get closed at a first meeting? Some people and groups just aren’t a good fit for each other — don’t push it until you have a solid rapport. That 2% who do actually close at the first meeting, do so because they’ve already looked into the company they’re doing business with — usually based on a recommendation from someone they trust.

Always bring food to the first meeting too, if you’re not treating the prospect to lunch at a fancy restaurant. The giving of food and drink is the universal sign of showing strangers you care about them. They’ll always remember that delicious Krispy Creme, or out-of-this-world cup of coffee you gave them, even if they don’t remember a word you said about your product.

2. Scripts are for sales losers — let the (potential) client run the meeting.

One of the worst things about dealing with car and vacuum salespeople (no offense intended) is that they’re all about “the script.” They all believe that if they follow the script the sale will eventually come. The problem with this approach is that it’s entirely selfish and it leaves the prospect feeling forced into a corner, where they’re eventually led into a situation where they need to give a yes or no regardless of whether the salesperson has done their job checking all the boxes.

Essentially, don’t force the meeting and don’t be the cliched salesman-type who never shuts the heck up for fear the client might reject you if there’s even a moment of reflective silence. Let the client ask questions, then follow with honest answers. If this seems counter-intuitive, it’s because you haven’t learned the art of passive selling — whereby the client is sold on a product or service because a salesperson listens to their questions and concerns, answers truthfully, and gets the sale without pushing a single button.

3. Show the client you care by showing you’re listening — take notes.

This one requires a pad of paper and a pencil or pen. If you’re too new-school and wondering what kind of app I’m talking about, you can find these items in any office supply store on the cheap, and there are free practice guides everywhere to learn this lost art. Don’t take notes on your phone unless you’re in like-minded company and the prospect knows you’re typing notes into your device instead of texting your significant other!

Not only will you end up with a crib-sheet for how to close the client now and in the future, it can help establish a rapport of trust. Think just how validated they’ll feel when you can read their exact thoughts and wishes back to them verbatim. We all want to be understood and acknowledged. Don’t leave this one out of your toolkit, even if you have a bulletproof memory — there’s some showmanship involved here, as mentioned.

Selling isn’t rocket science, but it isn’t easy either. Check out this cool TEDx talk about sex and selling from Mace Horoff — he’s a real hoot!

Main Image Credit: Jim Pennucci/Flickr