First Impressions

First Impressions

You’ve made a list of prospective customers, qualified each of them, and are now preparing to embark on the most intimidating step in the sales cycle: making initial contact. Whether via phone call or in person, it’s kind of like a first date. You’re going to be judged. If you drop in for a personal visit, someone will be watching you…even when you think they aren’t. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. At the same time, there is a tremendous opportunity to front of you. What if this prospect could be your next annual contract client?

There are three absolutely necessary things to keep in mind that are crucial to the success of each and every initial sales contact:

1.      Have a Pre-Call OBJECTIVE – Ask yourself “What am I trying to accomplish?” Every step of the sales cycle is designed to systematically move towards the point when your prospect says “Yes!” and becomes a customer. Always continue moving towards conquering that objective.

2.      Think PROFESSIONAL! –  Think about the prospect and what you can do for them, not what you can do for yourself. It’s all about them, not you. Also remember that as a representative of your newspaper, everything you say and everything you do will be directly associated with your employer.

3.      Don’t be afraid of REJECTION – One of my favorite sayings is “Selling does not start until the customer says no.” Expect rejection…but do not be afraid of it. Prepare for it. Embrace it. Learn from it. And then you’ll know exactly what you need to do in the future to overcome it. Remember, persistence overcomes resistance!

Keep in mind, the initial sales contact is not intended to make a pitch. It’s not intended to close a sale. It is simply the first step towards creating a sale. Whether done on the phone or in person, initial contact time should be very short. Your primary focus, as defined by your pre-call objective, is to secure an appointment for a future time where you can conduct a thorough needs analysis.

Always remember that when we make a phone call or walk through the door of a prospect’s business, usually we are not expected and, for the most part, have interrupted their day. Your prospect may tell you that they do not have time to talk at the moment. Stay calm and ask if they can recommend a future time where they would not mind spending a few minutes with you.

The most important part in preparing for initial sales contact is to develop an “opener.” An opener is a statement that follows your greeting. Developing an effective opener takes careful thought. Preferably, it is a short and direct one sentence statement about your company that will grab attention and spark interest.

You only have a few seconds to get their attention. Make the most of it. Clearly define how meeting with you, and eventually doing business with you, will benefit the prospect and their business. Remember, it’s all about them..not about you.

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or


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