A potential new client is a wonderous thing. It’s exciting to share your greatness with an unknowing soul, to dazzle said prospect with the totality of your awesomeness. Some of us have been known to sleep poorly the night before a new client meeting out of sheer excitement over making a new connection. But those meetings don’t always bear fruit. Ever walk out of a meeting thinking, “We just didn't connect?” It’s rarely a straight line from “got the meeting” to “got the business,” but sometimes the train never even gets out of the station. You’re awesome, and you've got a stable of happy clients to prove it. So, why do your calls sometime jump the track?
Think of a call you’ve made that fits this description. How did the presentation begin? Chances are you did all of the right things: You were attentive, asked probing questions and executed all you’ve learned from the accumulated great sales training you’ve attended. But when it came time to move the sales cycle to the next step, nuthin’…crickets.
As part of that analytical process you’ve ritualistically executed on even the most successful calls, chances are you missed one very critical and important step.
Oftentimes, in the initial meeting with a potential new client, I start with a simple exercise of grabbing a blank sheet of paper and drawing a horizontal line across the middle of the page, scribbling these words on either end:
Sell Me Change
A Pen My World
The pitch goes something like this:
“Brad, I have a lot of really exciting information to share with you today, and I’m certain that a number of the items we’ll discuss should be things that will interest you. But before I start, I know that some people really just want me to sell them a pen, while others are really interested in a transformative process, something that truly has the opportunity to change the world that they live in today. Could you tell me where you believe you fit in this continuum?”
Never, not once, have I had someone not play along, and the results are dramatic. The devil is in this small detail, in that if you’re pitching a truly transformative process to someone that merely wants a commodity, the chances of a connection are pretty slim. Conversely, if you’re busy talking about how much cost you can drive out of their supply chain but their problems have to do with inefficiencies and not cost, they’re palms are probably not getting sweaty with excitement over working with you.
This small exercise serves not only as an acknowledgement for your prospect that you’re trying to find them in the place they want to be found but it also gives you the opportunity to frame your conversation within the context most pertinent to the person with whom you’re talking—and it generally is positively received. Trust me, I've asked. I've even had people stop to consider their position, an exercise that they’ll often thank me for later.
Remember, of course, that once you complete the exercise, it’s helpful if you not only actually HAVE solutions along the continuum but you also understand the benefits to be gained as a result. Your credibility will soar and your chances of a successful connection are greatly improved. If you ask the question, you better be ready to deliver the goods.
Think about your current client base. Can you identify similarities amongst them with respect to this continuum? If so, you might just have yourself a specialty to develop.