The First Sale You Make to a Customer: Are You Blowing It?

The first time you contact a new prospect,  that customer has a buying decision to make. The decision doesn’t involve money… it involves time.

For salespeople and customers, time is money

Photo by raduga21

Are We Delivering ROI On Our Customers’ Time?
A Sales Attempt That Failed

Not long ago I was supposed to accompany a television station salesperson to see the owner of a roofing company. The AE had met with the owner several times, had made a presentation that seemed to go well, but hadn’t been able to get a commitment.

The meeting was supposed to be Monday at 10am.

Monday morning the client called to say that something had come up, and asked to reschedule. We rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday morning the AE called to confirm, and the client said he couldn’t meet that day. We rescheduled for Wednesday at 11:30.

Wednesday morning the client sent an email that 11:30 wouldn’t work. The AE tried to return the call, got voice mail, and never heard back.

That’s where the story ended.

The AE and Sales Manager were both frustrated. They felt it was rude and unprofessional of the client to keep bailing out like that.

They were right. But there’s another side to the story.

The client had a finite amount of time each day — and each day he decided that he’d get a better return on his investment by doing something else.

Andy Paul, author of Amp Up Your Sales: Powerful Strategies That Move Customers to Make Fast, Favorable Decisions, puts it this way: “The first thing a customer ever buys from you is time.”

Before you can even sell your product, the customer must purchase your selling time, which is comprised of your own time as well as the information you can provide to help the customer move closer to making a decision.

The currency the customer will use to purchase your selling time is her time… For her investment of time, she has to receive something of value from you in return that is equal to or exceeds her perception of the value of her time. That means that in each instance a customer invests in your selling time, you have to provide value in the form of information that will help move the customer at least one step forward in her buying process…

…If you provide something of value in exchange for the time the customer invests with you, then the customer will reward you with additional time to continue to sell to her.

The roofer we attempted to meet with had met with the AE before. He had an idea in his head of how much return he had previously received on his time investment.

He decided he could get a better return somewhere else.

When you ask a client to spend time with you — for a first meeting, for a presentation, or for anything else — your customer has to decide if the return they’ll get is going to exceed the value of their time.

It starts with the very first call you make. If your opening isn’t compelling enough to separate you from all the peddlers they hear from, you’re not getting the meeting. You can read about creating a more effective call opening here.

If you’re having trouble getting appointments, or getting your calls returned, ask yourself:

If the customer buys your time, how much value will they get?



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