Let’s assume you’re willing to get out and meet some people. (Even if you’re not, technically, in a sales job you should be getting out some, networking and meeting people!) When you meet someone, try to see the world from her perspective.
Let’s say you are an accountant meeting the president of a medium-sized, family-owned manufacturing company as an example. What’s likely to be the company president’s concern/Pain?
She probably wants her company to run smoothly. Very likely, she wants to keep her employees—and, perhaps, her father—happy. She probably doesn’t want to be burdened with a lot of change and readjustment. She may or may not know the benefits of a strong relationship with an accounting firm such as yours, and she may not want to take the time to find out.
Quite often, though, we find that this sort of person can benefit greatly from a relationship with an outside advisor who has specialized skills, someone who keeps her aware of the pitfalls and handles some of the burden of running the business so she can concentrate on other aspects of her job.
If I met such a person at a networking event, it would be my style to introduce myself, and to conduct the conversation as follows. My comments regarding each part are in (parentheses).
I’d say, Hello, Mary Ann (or Mary Ann Smith, or Mrs. Smith, or whatever is on her name tag), I’m Lenann Gardner. Did you enjoy the speaker / dinner / whatever? (It’s good to ask a neutral question.)
She might say, “Yes. Quite good.”
And I’d say, “Glad you enjoyed it. I see you’re with Smith Manufacturing. Are you folks located downtown?” (This ties to what she just said, then asks an easy-to answer question.)
She might say, “For now.”
I’d say, “For now? Are you moving?” (Uses her words. And, it’s good to ask!)
She might say, “Yes.”
I’d say, “Well, best wishes for the success of that move! How soon is it?” (This shows enthusiasm for something other than what you are selling, and, again, it’s good to ask.)
She might say, “Two weeks.”
I’d say, “Wonderful! Moving into larger space?” (More enthusiasm. More asking.)
If she said “Yes”—or even if she said “No,” I’d say, “I see! I’m with LMG Accounting and Consulting. Have you heard of LMG?”
Of course everything depends on what she says, but presuming she said, “No, I can’t say I recognize the name.” I’d say, “We work with many manufacturing businesses to help them to be more profitable, by helping them run more smoothly, handle their funds more efficiently, and legally avoid paying too much in taxes.” (That’s a message tied to her world.)
She might say, “I see.” I’d say, “Do you have good people working with you to help you to address those issues?” (Ask!)
She might say, “We plug away as we can, and we have an accountant on staff who isn’t very good.” (That’s Pain!)
I’d say, “I see. You have a so-so accountant, and the rest of you plug away as you can.
Has he been working with you since the organization was formed?” (Good to restate her pain, and to do more asking.)
She might say, “Yes. My father hired the guy when he organized the firm in 1973—he was a friend of Dad’s.” (More Pain!)
I’d say, “I see. 1973. That’s quite a while ago!” (Good, reflective listening.)
She might say, “My father likes him. I can’t say I have much to do with him.”
(If I got that much Pain from her – her father chose the staff accountant, but she’s now president of the company and she doesn’t have much to do with him) I’d say,” Mary Ann, I’d like to come out and have a word with you at a time that would be convenient for you. Perhaps I could give you some ideas that would be helpful to you as you move into your new, expanded space. When would you have time next week for us to chat for an hour? Would first thing on Thursday work for you?” (That’s a close.)
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