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The First Date

You’ve been watching and wondering about her. She has all the “right stuff,” and you’d like to get to know her better. Despite a few butterflies in your stomach (she might say “no” and then what?), you ask her out.

Preparing for your lunch, which you set up in an impressive restaurant, you check to be sure everything just right. You’ve worn your best suit, a finely starched shirt, your lucky tie… you had a trim just 2 days ago. Your shoes are shined. Your breath is fresh and you are clean-shaven.

Mentally, you are ready. You checked her out on social media, and you’ve thought about some conversation starters and topics of mutual interest. You’ve reminded yourself not to seem too desperate nor too cocky… you want to play it cool because you really want to make a great first impression.

You arrive at the restaurant early because you don’t want her to think you’re not serious and motivated. But then you place a phone call so she can see that you’re busy and important, too. Once she comes in the door, you quickly terminate the call and focus your undivided attention on  her.

At first, it’s apparent that you’re both a bit tentative in opening the conversation. It’s the usual chit-chat about the weather, recent news events and general observations about the menu and the restaurant. Then, boldly, you ask a question about her background. She gives you the short version, and so you follow-up on an area that caught your attention.

It goes on like this for several minutes, with the only interruption being the server taking your order. You feel that she’s starting to warm up to you, that you’ve broken the ice. So far, so good.

That’s when you decide it’s time to get down to business. Armed with the information you’ve just gathered, feeling that the clock is ticking, convinced that you’ve observed all the appropriate social niceties, you begin the pitch.

The rest of the lunch visit is consumed with your pitch. You eased into it just as the bread basket arrived. You laid out market research data and analysis when the entrees arrived, giving yourself time to make your way through half your salmon before moving in to try and close the deal.

You put the full court press on as soon as she declined coffee and dessert… And you were surprised when she refused a second meeting, leaving you with a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” response in the parking lot as you went your separate ways.

What happened?

One of the most surefire, certain ways to get rejected after just one date is to spend too much time talking about yourself. The same applies to sales calls.

No matter how solid the prospect seems, no matter how prepared you are for the meeting, no matter what you do to impress… if a sales call is all about you, the prospect will lose interest.

On a date, you will be more interesting when you are interested. The same is true in selling. Five things that could have changed the outcome in this sales call are:

  1. Don’t ask questions just because you are looking for ammunition to use in your pitch. Ask questions because you are genuinely interested in understanding.
  2. Don’t race through getting acquainted questions so you can get to the pitch faster. You’ll get there soon enough. Go beyond the bare minimums to make a solid and lasting impression.
  3. Let others enjoy their meal. You may have a captive audience, but springing for lunch doesn’t mean that your prospect is willing or able to endure a side dish of selling. Use this time to build rapport and keep it casual.
  4. Don’t try to put it all into a single sales call. Give the prospect a reason to want a second meeting. If you’ve already said everything you had to say, there isn’t really a reason to meet with you again.
  5. Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions that get the prospect talking about herself. Listen closely and keep your curiosity in the driver’s seat so you can steer the conversation naturally rather than veering into the pitch.

With any date or prospect that you truly are interested in for the long-term, remember that main objective of the first meeting is to get a second meeting. Behave in a manner that will help you reach that objective, and you’ll ultimately be better positioned for a long-term, serious relationship.

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