Don’t talk about the product on your first sales call


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Feel free to ignore this rule if you’re selling something that can be done with a one-call close. But for the rest of us (and that’s probably the vast majority of us), your first call or conversation with a prospect isn’t an opportunity to talk about the product.

Put the demo slides away. Tell the sales engineer you won’t need her for this one.

Your first call is about discovery. It’s about establishing objectives, needs, outcomes. Until you have that conversation, there’s no way to know if what you’re selling is even relevant or valuable to the prospect.

I know you think this prospect is particularly qualified and ready. I know you’re anxious to push your pipeline faster, pull that deal into this month or this quarter.

But if you short-change the vital first step of not just discovering and uncovering need, but establishing the understanding and urgency to solve a problem the prospect may or may not have known that they have, the context for which your solution is a requirement does not exist.

Put another way, if your prospect doesn’t believe they absolutely need it, you’re wasting their time and they are wasting yours.

For that first call, focus on the prospect’s objectives. Focus on their biggest obstacles to success. Ask questions that help them better understand the problem, better quantify the the cost of doing nothing. Help them envision what success looks like, including who else in the organization they’ll be saving.

Focus on the hole, not the drill.

Draw a direct line between the needs and pain your prospect has today, and the outcome and objectives they’re seeking.

Your product or service may be the solution. It may be exactly what they need.

But you have to earn the right to have that part of the conversation. And you have to give your prospects the time and guidance to get there.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


  1. Matt: this is good advice. Many salespeople are jazzed about what their product does and can do, and they’re excited for the opportunity to share the love. This is a good thing. Their managers encourage it, too.

    But like you point out, it’s appropriate to ratchet back some selling zeal and get to the facts–on the first call, especially.

    However . . . . there are exceptions to every rule. I’ve been on enough sales calls to sense the thought balloon suspended above my holy Point of Contact. Inside that balloon are the words, Why the [bleep] are you here sitting in front of me? I’ve even had prospects just belt out the question. So much for singular focus on fact-finding and listening. The not-so-subtle secret is that many prospects really don’t enjoy all that unilateral questioning. You know why if you’ve ever watched Joe Friday on an episode of Dragnet.

    Fair enough. No downside to talking about what your product or service does, or what outcomes your clients have achieved using it. No need to go overboard, either. Nobody said you have to bring PowerPoint to your first meeting. If anything, a short discussion about what your company does helps a prospective client recognize whether what you provide helps solve their need.

  2. Great points, Andrew. Clearly there’s a need to root the conversation in what you do, and why you think there might be a bit. But before jumping into a full demo with the assumption that there’s an immediate need, it’s worth making sure that’s the case. It could be that it’s a nice to have not need to have right now, in which case you can save everyone a little time.


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