Mark’s Sales Tips - 1st edition: A guaranteed way to get that all important prospect meeting

These days, time is our most valuable commodity. Not just for hard pressed sales people but also for our clients and prospects as well – who’s time is as equally important. One of the age old challenges everyone faces is getting that meeting with that all important person, no matter what line of work you are in. So how can you ensure that you get that meeting with that important decision maker, who’s time you covet so much? After all, why should they meet you? How are you going to change their world so that they are happy to give you the air-time?

Well here’s a 100% proven method for getting the air-time you need, with anybody who’s time you value. This principle will work in any given situation.

First, we need to employ a small amount of psychology here to develop our understanding of the person with whom we wish to meet. As I mentioned, time is a valuable commodity and for every minute doing one thing, there is an opportunity cost for not doing another. Therefore, if you request something of value from someone (time in this case), it stands to reason you should have something of value to give them. Agreed? If you are tracking me so far, you should be staring at the word value.

If the prospect does not perceive that time investment with you is of value - likely you will not get the meeting, because the opportunity cost of time traded is too great. The operative word; ‘value’ is not our perception of value, moreover it is the customer’s perception, remembering that the customer’s perception is always our reality. This is where we have to be customer focussed and figure out, how can I demonstrate that I can fill the time with mutually reciprocal value? This is the gateway to getting that meeting, and how you articulate that value, as I will show you, is known as a ‘Reason to Meet’.

Let me illustrate with an incidental example: I was teaching the principle of crafting a ‘Reason to Meet’ in a program some time back, when one of the participants proclaimed out loud: “that’s really interesting”. He proceeded to explain to the group, how he is inundated-daily, with calls and emails from recruiters, none of which he tends to respond to. However, a few weeks prior, he had lost two people from key technical positions and was in urgent need of replacements. In his inbox arrived an email with a couple of CV’s for candidates that closely matched the sort of replacements he was looking for. His reaction, as he told us, was to immediately respond to the recruiter, and a subsequent discussion took place between the two. The outcome of that discussion is not the point of focus here, it is the fact that the recruiter provoked the outreach.

So, what happened? Well my participant friend had a perspective on his situation (a Buyer’s Perspective), something that he wanted Resolve, Avert, Change or Evade (RACE). Suspending any suspicions of coincidence (or lack thereof) for the moment, the recruiter had (inadvertently) hit upon his Buyer’s Perspective - which was, to replace the two technical members of staff. He therefore responded with an investment of time, that may well have yielded business for the recruiter.

Now let's look at a more intentional example. In a discussion with a sales manager at one of the companies I worked with last year, we were exchanging some war stories over coffee. Whilst we talking, his phone beeped and he picked it up and looked at his email. Instantly he punched the air and victoriously shouted; “YES!” - a million dollar deal signed that day.

He proceeded to tell me about how an existing client of his, a manufacturing business, had an internal report produced by a consulting firm suggesting there could be a need for his services. He had found this out through a ‘Coach’ on a previous sales opportunity (See previous blog post: Intelligence is key - How a coach can increase your closing ratio). He and his colleagues, now in possession of information that helped them frame the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’, got together and crafted a ‘Reason to Meet’. The ‘Reason to Meet’ got the desired initial meeting and two months later – a million dollar deal.

'Mighty oaks from little acorns grow' - Thomas Chaucer 1374.

There is always more than one takeaway from examples like this but let’s focus on the ‘acorn’ for now. The information acquired was used to frame the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’ – what they were trying to R.A.C.E. This was of clear importance to them and so the ‘Reason to Meet’ needed to talk to what the client was trying to R.A.C.E.

As the ‘Reason to Meet’ impacted the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’, it was treated as a high priority and time was set aside by the buyers for the discussion. It is only by articulating buyer-focused relevant value in your ‘Reason to Meet’ that you will be consistently successful in getting those meetings. So how do we construct such a ‘Reason to Meet’? Well first of all let’s set out a framework that can help us do so.

1. It must be clear, concise and compelling.

2. Speak to the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’ what they are trying to R.A.C.E.

3. Put the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’ first

4. You should align your product, service solution in the context of solving their business challenge

5. Answer the question; ‘So what?’ in other words how will your solution impact the “Buyers Perspective’

6. Do not use ‘I’ in the first sentence

7. Follow the formula below

A simple formula to go by would be this: Buyer’s Perspective + Solution + Benefit of solution = a successful reason to meet.

Here’s an example:

It was recently in the news that you have taken on a new G.M. (John Smith), who’s remit is to boost regional account growth. I would like to share with you some information on proven practices, that can guarantee game changing results in account acquisition and retention, that would elevate the performance of the business, helping you achieve your objective of regional account growth/retention.

At the heart of this principle is making sure you develop an understanding of the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’ before you reach out, then arranging your messaging such that you express your wish to meet, in the context of being able to solve the customer’s business challenge – representing value to them. The perceived value you bring to addressing their business challenge is exchanged for their time.

You may say to me; well that’s all well and good, but what if I haven’t met the client or I don’t know the ‘Buyer’s Perspective’ or business challenge? There is one simple answer to this: Research. Invest the time in figuring out what their business challenges are, because for sure there will be plenty. Figure out what they are trying to resolve, avert, change or evade and then match your capabilities, align your solution and express that in the context of how you bring value in terms of what they are trying get done.

For the record, the example above is a real life example; I met someone at a social engagement, he passed me his card and asked me to contact him. I went to their website, looked at their press release and found the news about the new G.M. and figured out that a new G.M. wasn’t there for just window dressing. The Press release specifically mentioned increasing account acquisition and retention. They are now good clients of mine.

Make this the way you get meetings. In other words, always think about how that meeting will be of value to whoever you are meeting with. The principle applies to people you work with as much as it does to your customers. Have a conversation with Marketing, (if Marketing is developing leads for you) and explain, how useful it would be to know what the prospect is looking to R.A.C.E. if that’s possible. Take the qualification of a lead to that next level if you can, saving all important time.

Now you know it you can’t 'unknow' it. Share with me your ‘Reasons to Meet’ and lets compare and contrast because this is a very powerful way to elevate your performance and optimize you lead pipeline effectiveness.

In my next blog post I will be writing about how to create, articulate a clear dynamic value proposition that talks to your Buyer’s Perspective. Until then.

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