“First Meeting” Skills for Outside Sales. Earn a Real “Next Step.”

Setting more sales appointments is often a necessary first step to new account generation. Yet, sales and revenue increases may not materialize without adjusting your sales process.

When you substantially increase your rate of access to targeted companies, your expectations and sales approach must adjust to avoid serious disappointment.

Enhancing 1) “first meeting” skills and 2) increased focus and attention on making advancements in the initial stages of the sales funnel are necessary to realize your revenue expectations.

Example #1.

Forty-person company currently closes 50% of accounts they gain access to. Typical sale is $75,000 – $175,000 range. Most desired sales are in the $300,000 – $600,000 range. Inquiries are generated from speaking and publishing of key personnel.

This company seeks more access to decision makers at targeted companies which could result in $300,000 – $600,000 sales.

If your mindset is “We know how to close. All we have to do is get front of more decision makers to meet goals” …. you are usually deluding yourself and headed for disappointment.

In this first example, the sales team is used to seeing people who know them by reputation. They have heard a top officer speak or read a published article. Speaking and publish are the two best marketing methods for communicating credibility.

When people call them currently they have a recognized need and believe that this company can help them.

But, but, but… when they start to initiate sales appointments, the meetings will be with people who don’t have the same qualitative frame of reference, if they know them at all. They also typically will not be fully aware of all the benefits they could get from use of their service.

It is wrong to assume the same close rate in these circumstances.

The solution is below.

Example #2.

A current coaching client realized a quick flurry of new appointments with targeted companies. The good news is that all of those companies would be great accounts. The danger is that without sharpening “first meeting” skills and implementing some new contact and credibility strategies in the beginning stages – my new coaching client will fail to make the advances necessary to be at the table when a new vendor is selected.

Why is this? When you drastically increase the number of first appointments, it is more likely that 1) they are less aware of you, if they know you at all. 2) that they are in the very early stages of the buying process. or 3) they have no present intent of buying. The meeting serves an introductory and information purpose only.

Let’s set aside the time management questions as to what meetings you choose to accept.

You must approach the meetings with a heightened awareness of what is necessary to earn an advancement. You have much to accomplish in 30-60 minutes.

Gaining access is only one step to gaining a foothold in an account with potential. Your ability to “manage the mix” and “earn advancements” will be as critical to meeting your sales goals as gaining access.


You must properly “manage the mix” of new appointments.

– Go on too many short sales cycle small volume accounts and your margins will suffer.

– Go on too many long sales cycle large volume account appointments and not much may close in the short run – killing your cash flow.

– If you go on too many appointments and don’t have the time or support to follow-up, follow-up and follow-up… you are doomed to failure as your new contacts will not receive the frequency nor quality of communication necessary for them to feel comfortable writing you big checks.


Nobody does business with anybody that they don’t trust and respect. When you start to initiate sales appointments, many of those you see will have little knowledge of your company or the benefits you offer.

Before you even have a shot at selling anything, you have to establish trust, respect, credibility, comfort and effectively communicate value.

More frequent communication is better than less frequent communication. A consistent message is more powerful than an inconsistent message. Clarity and conciseness when communicating value has more impact than spraying and praying.


Setting sales appointments alone is no guarantee that you will reach your sales goals. More sales appointments will force you to evaluate your skills and strategies in making advancements and managing your time.

You will change and adapt, or you will leave a lot of money on the table.