“Let’s get married!”. How would you react if someone proposed to you on a first date? Would you say yes? Unlikely!
You’re probably thinking that anyone who would ask such a thing is a little bit nuts, yet there are probably many thousands of people out there doing something just like that every day! I’m talking about people selling high-value services to companies that they have no relationship with. Forlornly they walk away from a meeting with the company they have fallen in love with. They know it’s a perfect match for them, that they would love them back if only they could see…
It’s insane! Who on earth is going to commit to a high-value contract, for services that they won’t know the quality of until they’ve been carried out, with a firm that they barely know?!
Think of selling consultancy services or other intangibles like you would think of dating. You meet someone at a conference, and you seem like a good match. Be bold, go on – get their phone number, who knows where it might lead! Then set up your first
datemeeting. Don’t tell them all about your services and then ask if they have any projects you might work on. That’s like meeting someone you really like, talking to them for a few minutes and then asking if they’d spend the night with you. It might work occasionally, but most often you’re likely to just get a slap!
So what you should you do? You managed to get up the courage to get their phone number. Now you need to call them to set up the meeting. At this point, you’re trying to sell them on the idea of the meeting, not on having your children. If you were calling about a date would you try to sell the idea of getting married while you’ve got them on the phone? Perhaps spend ten minutes about all the reasons they should marry you? NO! Just talk about what great things could happen it they agree to meet with you, and sell it as a chance to explore that!
OK. You got lucky, the number they gave you was real, they took your call and now’s the time for your meeting. A candlelit dinner for two, soft music, maybe playing footsie under the table… Probably inappropriate! It’s a business meeting, not a date, don’t me so literally – you’ll get in trouble!!!
What are you hoping to get out of the first date? Is a marriage proposal reasonable? No. How about suggesting living together? Are you nuts? Spend the night together? Wow, you move fast! How about getting to know each other, getting comfortable with each other’s company, seeing if there’s any real interest on both sides, and maybe a first little commitment, like a first kiss and asking for a second date?
What would be the equivalent in your business circumstances? What small commitment could you ask a client to make after your first meeting? Perhaps a needs assessment at their offices? Sign up for a course or seminar that you’re running? Meet some of your existing clients to hear about how great you are?
When you want to take things a little further, what’s your plan? Perhaps you could have a trial run at commitment – a small value project, or if you’re getting on really well, a bigger commitment?
Once you’ve demonstrated how great you are, that you’re good to be around, that you listen, then you’re getting somewhere in your relationship. And remember it’s a two-way thing – you have to love them too for the relationship to really work!
Could you use a little helpful advice on your business development issues? Why not get in touch?