Many people about how to make a good first impression, but not as much about a second impression. Why even worry about a second impression, though? No matter what situation you happen to be in, forging a professional relationship is often a multi-step process. Whether you’re coming in for a second job interview, or making a second contact with a prospect, the second impression is just as important as the first. While you may have been lucky enough to impress them the first time, you need to follow through once more (or multiple times) before totally winning them over.
As Tim Sanders puts it in an article for Oprah, the first meeting is often about gauging surface details like likability and basic skillsets. The next meeting will hone in on your competency. When gaining the trust of a potential client, you’re going to have to meet them multiple times. Learning to make a lasting second impression could be the key to improving sales productivity. Here are some tips for meeting with a business colleague or prospect for the second time:
Keep Discussion Centered on Them
Thinking about this in terms of a social call may relieve some of the pressure. When you’re going over to the neighbors’ house for dinner, you should ask them about themselves. A business situation is similar: you want them to know their industry is important to you, so you have to ask a question that demonstrates you’ve been keeping up with their progress online or in the media. Make sure you’re doing customer research between meetings so that you know of anything relevant you can bring up. While it’s tempting to fill any lull in the conversation with small talk, this is the ideal time to guide the direction in a more constructive way. According to Geoffrey James for Inc., a good question would be something along the lines of, “I saw on your blog that you were at the Worldcomp conference in Vegas this year. Did you see any innovative products that caught your eye?”
Another way to start off the conversation on the right foot is to reference your last meeting, according to Sanders. If you learned something poignant or important from your last meeting with the prospect, bring it up again. Ideally, you will have taken down notes during or after your first meeting so that you can retain this information.
Talk About Why You’re Meeting For a Second Time
Not too long into this conversation, you’re going to have to drive toward the heart of the matter. If you scheduled this meeting, it’s time to explain why. Don’t be too blunt, but don’t wait too long either. If you’ve brushed up on your customer research, it should be fairly straightforward to explain what you’d like to tackle.
Listen hard while they are talking, see if they give you something you can use to relate to the customer research you did and guide the conversation organically towards your product or their problem point. Odds are, they’ll give you an in. If not, make sure you’ve responded to their story about Worldcomp conference before diving into your pitch. Make your point quickly, and give them a chance to respond.
When you contact this person for a second meeting, try to let them know exactly how much time you expect it to take. This shows you’re respectful of their time. Once you’re on the way out the door, thank them again for taking the time to talk to you.