When you get that big moment to have your first conversation with a prospective client you’ve been working on for months, remember to be influential with customers, it’s about service not selling!
Many early stage entrepreneurs and solo professionals work very hard at prospecting and focusing their business development activities on opportunities to serve higher value clients/customers. It can be tempting, after so much persistent advance work, to start the first sales conversation sharing what it is you do, make or provide–selling them on your offer!
Nothing will diminish the clients perceived value of your presence faster!
Chances are, customers can buy your products and services from anybody. Your first sales conversation should never be about your services (that’s what your web site is for). What your client desires from that first conversation will have nothing at all to do with you and your products.
You must serve the client-to-be with value to them first BEFORE they will go to the next step with you. What is that value? It’s your expert perspective!
You must be prepared to improve their condition, connecting with their need, acknowledging and appreciating their current emotional state – expressed through your expert perspective. In the first sales conversation, customers desire a useful perspective (larger than their own) that gives them the clarity and confidence to make their best decision to improve their own condition.
In other words, higher value clients are looking for “guidance and advice” – not a demo or capabilities pitch!
How you offer advice to your early stage buyer will determine if they want to go deeper in the sales process with you. Here are five keys to offering advice and guidance that will enable you to create more influence in the conversation and trust with your client-to-be – right then and there in your first conversation!
1) Be Present. You better have all your darn self right there present in the moment– open, prepared, relaxed, confident–completely focused on just being there to serve. Then listen!
2) Acknowledge the client’s current condition. The person across from you is busy, probably with lots of responsibility, stressed, over worked, and stretched thin and reluctant to buy anything–least of all from you as yet unproven in their eyes. They are in an emotional state of NEED. Listen to the client tell you what they really desire and value. Appreciate their current reality and acknowledge it with empathy.
3) Ask questions that help the client gain more clarity and understanding of their own problem. All people who give advice that matters are good attentive listeners, and then they ask powerfully relevant questions that clarify the issue. Advice givers are prepared to help the client know what they don’t know. You will not go further in sales process if the client-to-be doesn’t come away from that first conversation having more understanding and clarity about their own problem or issue at hand. Your intelligent, well informed questions will help them get there.
4) Offer the prospective client what they really want – a bigger perspective! You can only give credible advice when you’re perceived as an expert at improving the client’s condition (however defined by employing idea 2 above). Experts have a perspective that can help the client make better more informed decisions (like buying from you as opposed to somebody else). You provide a bigger view of what’s possible through your well informed, expert perspective.
5) When asked, “what would you do” – you tell ‘em! Your prospective customer asks what you would do from your perspective. It’s a fair question all advice givers who matter get asked. The catch is the customer doesn’t really want to know what you would do. Heavens no! They want to know what they will do! The client wants to feel confident and avoid risk. If you don’t offer your advice to them with all your passion, enthusiasm and confidence, they won’t be feeling that way about you and your advice. Provide your advice in a manner that instills more confidence in the customer’s actions. Remember it’s never about you.