Three steps to relationship heaven

The golden hour

HourYour marketing activity has motivated a decision maker to meet you to explore opportunities. You have one hour to impress your dream client of the future – don’t waste it! These precious sixty minutes could set you on the way to a long term profitable relationship or turn your dream into a nightmare!

Understand your prospect

First you have to get your mindset right.  Go into the meeting with the ultimate objective of building a great relationship and understanding the prospect and their world – not of selling something. This is your dream client and you want them to buy and re-buy, you have not yet earned the right to tell your own story, only to explore the potential for doing business at sometime in the future when it is right for the client. Don’t make the mistake that many of your competitors make of using so much of the time available to talk about yourself that you don’t have the time to really motivate your prospect to want buy from you. 

The model below represents how to structure a great first meeting, with the timing and objective of each stage shown around the outer circle. 


Step one – Engage to motivate

 The first few minutes is about engaging your prospect by:

  1. Providing a very brief positioning (elevator) statement that explains who you are, what you do and why customers choose you and your company. In other words what benefits they get from buying from you. This is not a time for downloading your complete company history or feature dumping.
  2. Giving the reason for the meeting
  3. Motivating the prospect to answer questions

Step two – Explore to understand

This step is the one that will make or break your chances of sustaining long term success. Your sole objective is to explore the world of your potential client so that together you will uncover any opportunities to do business together. It is not about spotting buying signals or making premature presentations – it is about understanding. Getting the exploring stage right demands that you use the two most important selling skills you will ever be called on to master – questioning and listening. 

“I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care”

There are two objectives of the exploring stage, to understand and to build trust. Insightful questions and active listening get your prospect to think about their business and will demonstrate your genuine interest. You know you are doing the right thing when your potential customer says that’s a good question. As you build trust you will be allowed more insight, more insight will help you to win more business. When the prospect is satisfied that you have understood them then you will be ready to move to step three.

Step three – Explain to add value and gain commitment

When you have a full understanding of your potential customer’s world you will be in a position to provide some ideas about how you might be able to help. This is a time to provide information that will provide real value and that will be genuinely useful at no cost. You are not making a full presentation, just providing enough value to encourage your prospect to make a commitment to moving forward. That commitment might be to a further meeting, to a proposal, demonstration or formal pitch. The important thing is to gain that commitment before the meeting ends which will avoid any doubt as to what the next agreed step is.

Remember the three E’s

  • Engage
  • Explore
  • Explain

Too often the hour is seen as an opportunity to download everything possible about products and services almost in the hope that the prospect will find something among the masses of information that they will find interesting. Structure this golden hour well and you will win more business.

How do you tackle sales meetings? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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David Tovey

By David Tovey

David Tovey helps sales teams, business owners and professionals to build amazing business relationships, win more business and accelerate profitable growth.

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