marketing & sales: Your First Sales Call
As your sales career begins, most of your calls will be "first calls" on a customer. These calls are where friendships are built and trust is earned, and trust is where business associates form their relationships. Even experienced salespeople need to master the skill of handling first calls as they continue to grow their customer base. Whether you are a sales veteran or just entering the field, the first impression is the lasting impression. Remember, this is a process—not an event.
First Order of Business
So, you've arrived at the customer's place of business for the first time. Don't feel pressured by the need to sell or to get an order signed. Your purpose on the first call is to gather information, which you will use to put together some options that you'll present in the second call.
Before you enter the building, make sure there's nothing holding you back. Check yourself in the mirror. Hair nicely styled? Shoes shined? No embarrassing bits of lunch left on your clothing? Good. Also, be sure to have your business cards and company literature ready. Bring a notepad and an extra pen.
Once you're inside, absorb as much as you can about the business. Remember, on your first call, you're there to introduce two things: yourself and your company. The conversation should always be on the light side, but listen carefully to what the customer is saying and isn't saying. Your job is to look for any gaps between the situation the customer has now, and what he or she wants it to be.
A Working Example
It was an early spring day when I first visited a company called Dyna International. I drove to the address listed in the state business directory. I immediately approached the woman at the front desk and asked her who was responsible for working with external vendors such as my company.