There was an incident when my daughter was still very young, in which she was happily singing-along to a song on the radio. We got to the grocery store and went in to grab a few things, and then headed back out to the car. When I started the car, she started to cry. “What’s wrong,” I asked? “The radio’s not playing my favorite song anymore…”
My daughter had assumed that shutting off the car was like pressing “pause,” and that her song would still be there when we came back. Funny, right? But totally reasonable, if you’re three or four years old!
Now… let’s talk about what’s happened since the LAST time you met with [client].
When you sit down with a client or prospect, it’s all to easy to assume that everything will just pick up from where you left it a week, two weeks, or a month ago. But since your last phone call or face-to-face, a lot of things may have changed. Perhaps a sales projection was missed so some priorities have changed. Maybe a key person has been hired or fired at the company. Or could it be that a competitor has made a move and your client/prospect is thinking about ways to respond?
When you think about the Hourglass Method Client Needs Analysis, it starts with “creating comfort.” And that’s an easy step to skip if you’re working with a company that’s been a client for years. But no matter how familiar you think you might be, you cannot know what has changed since the last time you met—the client has not been “on pause” since the last time you talked—it’s a great idea to devote the first few minutes of meeting creating comfort.
The last time we met, we were focusing on ___________. Is that still the main priority?
How are things… and more specifically, is there anything new going on that you’d like to catch me up on?
Are there any issues that you’d like to add to the agenda that we had previously discussed?
Creating comfort isn’t just about contracting and partnering. It reminds the client that your focus is on their needs, and it can create new opportunities for you along the way!
Mike Anderson is VP of Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy.