Back in the ‘80’s, there was a television ad that pictured a woman preparing for the job interview of her life. She was nervous. She was sweating. In comes Secret deodorant with the now-famous slogan, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Of course, after applying the deodorant we are lead to believe that her odorless and sweat-free under-arms gave her the confidence she needed to land her dream career.

While that ad may be a bit of a stretch to reality, what’s sure is that in B2B software sales, first impressions stick. Slow reactivity to inbound requests can kill a prospect’s interest. Not having assets in local languages for certain markets can put people off, and the way you treat your prospects will set the tone for the rest of the buyer journey whether they turn into a sales deal or not.

So how can you be sure to make a good impression from the get-go? Here are some practical tips you can follow to be sure you’re on point:

Pay attention to details

Sloppy email messages written quickly from mobile devices are no excuse for blatant spelling errors. It’s better to take a couple extra minutes to be sure what you have written is clear, than to send things in a rush that wind up being incomprehensible (or worse yet, offensive) to a prospect. I once had a boss who taught me that “the difference between amateur work and professional work is in the details.” I am a true believer in that, which is why it is important not to neglect certain things. Tone is interpreted in emails (whether intended or not), and you can easily come across as being rude if your messages are overly direct. Punctuation can entirely change the meaning of a sentence if you are not careful, so don’t overlook the importance a comma can make! Being detail-oriented is certainly a plus when dealing with clients and prospects since a high level of professionalism can only help you make a lasting (positive) impression.

Know who you’re dealing with

There is no excuse not to do your homework before a sales meeting. For any sales pitch, phone call or presentation you should know your buyer personas inside and out. What makes them tick? What are their primary concerns, challenges or issues that you are looking to address? What value proposition will resonate most with those people because of their job positions within their particular company? What external triggers (priority projects, market trends, or other factors) may influence their decision to purchase your solution (or not)? Having adequate market intelligence is essential in order to equip your sales team with the right information to help them effectively tailor their outreach, especially if you are running an Accounts-Based Marketing (ABM) program.

Don’t forget about culture

When dealing with international prospects, it is very important not to underestimate the importance that culture can play in business dealsCulture influences marketing on so many different levels, from the types of messaging we use, to the way those messages are delivered.  While Americans have the tendency to be rather informal and call people they don’t know personally by their first names, this would be appalling in Japanese business culture. Learning about the cultural communication styles of the people you are targeting is a fundamental part of international outreach. I highly recommend reading The Culture Map by Erin Meyer should you be interested in learning more about cross-cultural communications.

A well-prepared demo can make or break you

Initial outreach is one thing, but research shows that delivering a winning product demo can make or break a sale. Many times a product demo is the first time a prospect meets you (whether that be virtually or face-to-face), so if there’s ever a time to shine, this is it! Preparing your demo so that it meets your prospect’s expectations is critical — otherwise, you risk missing your mark and losing their interest for good. Don’t overlook some things that may seem obvious:

  • Be on time
  • Come prepared
  • Include other experts in the demo as needed
  • Ask your prospect what they expect to get out of your demo

Practice your presentation so that you know your stuff.

Final thoughts

Making a good first impression is without a doubt an important step when establishing a relationship with a prospect. But in order to ensure that that relationship grows, you will need to build on it over time, and for that, you have to have good people skills. Making sure your outreach is not too sales-y or pushy, taking the time needed in order to nurture prospects, and being a good listener will all contribute to a positive supplier-customer experience.

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