By Jeanette Benedetto
So, you’ve scheduled an initial meeting with one of your target prospects. Great! This first discussion is crucial for relationship development and ultimately winning business. Here’s how not to blow it:
1. Meet in-person, when possible.
Getting some actual “face time” with your prospect is an important step that lays the foundation for a relationship that can last decades, leading to repeat business and even referrals. It’s important to take advantage of, if at all possible. In an increasingly digital world, an in-person meeting will set you apart.
2. Do your research.
Spend some time gathering information about the person/people you’ll be meeting, and their organization. If you have something in common, such as attending the same school or volunteering for similar causes, it can really help break the ice. LinkedIn is a good place to start, especially if you can touch base with any mutual connections ahead of time.
3. Bring materials if you need to.
It’s fine to come prepared with information if it puts you at ease, but don’t leave behind an entire binder for your prospect to study. Be selective about any printed material you give during the meeting—keep it simple, clear, and useful. If you’re skeptical about marketing collateral’s place in today’s digital world, read this. (Need a hand? POUNCE can help you create and customize materials for a quick, on-the-way-out-the-door turnaround.)
4. Ask the right questions.
You don’t want to turn your meeting into an interrogation, but you will need to keep the conversation moving in the right direction. Consider asking questions that will lead to better understanding of what your prospect does and where their pain points are. Be careful not to ask broad questions that could be easily looked up online (make sure you do that research we mentioned). This leads us to our next tip…
5. Be prepared to listen.
This isn’t the time for a carefully-crafted sales pitch. Your initial meeting is the ideal opportunity to ask questions and then truly listen to your prospect’s answers. It’s not about your product or service, it’s about their needs. Learn, connect, and build a relationship with them. Once you understand their pain points and gaps, you can come to the next discussion with relevant ideas and solutions.
6. Follow up.
Immediately after the meeting, jot down anything that stood out to you. Whether it’s the prospect’s unique situation, their needs, or potential solutions your firm offers, make sure you don’t let the details slip away. Call your contact within a day or two and take the opportunity to thank them for the conversation. This is the perfect chance to highlight or reiterate ways you can help them, and it’s a great time to provide details about your services and people (cue POUNCE).
7. Find genuine ways to help.
Rather than chasing down a deal, set your sales goal aside (temporarily) and be sure to look for ways you can help this prospect. Maybe one of their pain points is something that another person in your network has experience with. Or, you could connect your prospect with someone else in your firm who is better-equipped to tackle their needs. If you’re looking for opportunities to help rather than opportunities to sell, they’ll be open to additional conversations, continuing to build the relationship and bringing even more business your way.
With these seven tips and POUNCE literally in your back pocket (did we mention there’s an app?), you’ll be prepared and productive in every prospect meeting going forward.
Jeanette Benedetto is a Marketing Coordinator with Postlethwaite & Netterville. Her focus areas include event coordination, digital marketing, content development, and communications management.