Customer visits are expensive–and if you don't make a sale, your time and travel expense has been wasted. Make sure you're at your best during face-to-face meetings by avoiding these common errors:
1. Be late to the meeting.If you don’t arrive on time, it tells the customer that you don’t give a hoot about them or their time. Always arrive 15 minutes ahead of time. If you drive to calls, get a GPS device to make sure you won't get lost en route.
2. Fail to check your appearance.Don’t show up with something amiss–spinach in the teeth, lipstick smeared–that could have been headed off by a quick stop in the client’s bathroom. Make a quick pit stop before the call, and give yourself a once-over.
3. Act too friendly.You'll just seem phony and "sales-y" if you pretend that a prospect is like a long-lost friend. Approach each prospect with respect and courtesy–not with a glad-hand and a back slap.
4. Talk more than you listen.Sales calls are about relationship building and gathering information. You can’t do either of those if your mouth is moving all the time. Get curious about the customer. Ask questions.
5. Argue with the customer.If the customer doesn’t agree with an important point, arguing is only going to set that opinion in concrete. Instead, ask the customer why he holds that opinion; then listen. You might learn something.
6. Give a sales pitch.Sure you’ve got something to sell–but nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. Have a discussion about the customer's needs; then, if appropriate, discuss what you've got to sell.
7. Fall short on product knowledge.No prospect wants to hear, “I need to get back to you about that” over and over. Make sure you’re trained on your current products and policies before the call. It's the least you can do.
8. Get distracted by your phone.No call, email, or message is more important than the real live person in front of you. When you're talking with a prospect, turn off your phone and, if you're using a tablet, disable email alerts.
9. Let the meeting meander.The customer's time is valuable. Don't have wandering conversation that slowly gets to the point. Instead, provide a brief agenda of what you're there to discuss, and be sure you stick to that agenda.
10. Overstay your welcome.Your prospect has hundreds of other things that he or she could be doing, rather than spending time with you. Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it.