How many times have you left a prospective client meeting without really discovering who the client is, what he/she needs, and what you can do for him/her? Have you gone in all guns blazing; telling the client how fabulous your product or service is and pushed rather than pulled a sale toward you? Isn’t it time you asked a few questions, listened to what your client is saying and recognised how you can help them?
Before you approach any client meeting it’s important to prepare, prepare, prepare. Take a look at their website – what does it say about them? Jot down a few questions or comments. Review their client testimonials to see what others have to say and why they recommend them. Make a mental note of these recommendations. With this information then consider what solutions your product or service can offer.
Being prepared for a client meeting places you in a good position. A client will recognise that you have taken time to gain prior knowledge of their business. This helps to create a positive rapport as you start to build a relationship. Your awareness of their business provides you with a way to start asking open questions to find out what their business needs really are.
Here are 3 ways to help you plan your questions:
Ask the client about the history of their business – why it was set up, how it started, or what have they learned from past mistakes etc Allow the client to paint a picture of their business to give you a better idea of where they are coming from. Talking about past business practice and performance may help the client to develop a better understanding of how they have progressed or not.
Find out what is happening right now in the business. What processes and systems are working? What isn’t working? What are the current issues? Giving the client an opportunity to reflect on the “now” in their business can open their eyes to immediate issues, sometimes overlooked in the day to day running of any business.
What is the long term vision for the business? Will the client sell/franchise? What are the options? Of course focussing on the present is vital for the success of any business however planning for the future is significant. This allows a client to consider options, to be flexible to new ideas, or to diversify the processes and systems they currently employ.
All successful relationships are built upon discovery; from the beginning, through the middle and with a vision to the future. Helping your prospective client recognise their individual business needs presents you with a better chance of gaining their trust and commitment. Get your questioning right, unearth the need and asking for the business should be a piece of cake!
Gail Gibson True Expressions
Discovery, Change, Transformation