The things you do are often more powerful than the things you say.
New business prospects are more likely to increase their engagement level when they know a seller truly cares about them and their business. Think about your own buying habits—are you more likely to do business with someone who cares about you compared to a slick talking salesperson who only cares about making a sale?
Here are five things to do before and during a first meeting with a new business prospect to demonstrate you care:
1. Research the prospect before the initial meeting.
- Research the person you are meeting with on LinkedIn and with a Google search.
- Research the company, visit their website, read their blog, and follow them on social media.
- Research their industry online to identify trends, opportunities, and challenges for the prospect.
- Identify their competitors and research them to gain further category knowledge and insight.
- Sample the product or take a walk through their physical location, if possible.
- Ask them to connect on LinkedIn.
2. Develop needs analysis topics and questions and write (type) them on a sheet of paper.
- Determine which topics and questions are essential and which are just desirable.
- Ask questions that let them know you’ve done your homework.
- Get familiar with terminology from your prospect’s industry and how to use it appropriately.
- Keep the questions handy (don’t think you can memorize them).
- Asking the same questions to all prospects is the lazy way out and rarely uncovers desired business results attached large budgets.
- Avoid over-preparation. 5–10 quality questions prepared in advance is usually sufficient.
Bonus Tip: After you discuss their consumer journey and agree on an assignment with the prospect, be sure to ask questions about how they measure success. Questions like:
- How would you describe the ultimate measure of success here?
- What return on investment are you looking for?
- Given our conversation about the consumer journey, what are some ways we can measure engagement along the purchase path?
- What would be an early indicator of success?
3. Contract and align expectations for the meeting.
- Send an Outlook invite after the prospect verbally commit to a meeting. Include the agenda, purpose of the meeting, and expectations.
- Ask if other people form their organization should attend.
- Send a reminder email the day prior to confirm the meeting.
4. Take notes during the meeting.
- Use a needs/notes T-bar to separate client needs (also known as desired business results) to separate general information (notes) form the good stuff (needs/desired business results).
5. Ask, listen, ask.
- Pay attention to their responses and ask appropriate follow-up questions.
- Some of the best questions you will ask are follow-up questions.
- When you hear a desired business result, keep asking questions to drill down to the root of the problem, challenge or opportunity.
Take the Time to Care
Setting an appointment with a new business prospect is not an easy task. Take the time to follow these steps to show you care—it will reduce the relationship tension during an initial meeting with a prospect and accelerate the sales process!