The objective when talking to a prospect at a networking event, as illustrated in the previous blog post, is to set an appointment to meet again to continue the conversation, though lots can intervene to prevent such a thing.
The networking event conversation illustrated that when you’re selling, you should tie everything you say to what she just said.
Notice, for example, how I began my second comment (in the previous post) by saying, “Glad you enjoyed it,” and how that pattern of reacting to what she says continues throughout the dialogue.
And don’t be afraid if she says she already has people in your line of work that she’s using. Of course she does! Remember, a lot of mediocre—or worse—accountants are out there!
A lot of people drop balls, fail to return phone calls, make mistakes in their work, don’t warn clients about pitfalls, and generally provide less-than-terrific service. Your prospect could be dealing with that type of person out of habit. And, if so, once she understands that you’re better than that, she’s likely to break her habit!
And what if she really does have a great relationship with a very responsive and competent accountant who’s doing what you could do for her? Well, then, be happy for her, and say so! (That’s a Clean Heart Position.) When you’re selling, your desire is for the prospect to get where she wants to go. Often, we’ll be able to help her get there. But if she already has a supplier who does well, be glad for her!
For example, if the company president says, “I use Joe Jones over at (competitive firm) and he really does a great job for me.” I’d say: “Great! I’ve met Joe.” (Or “I’ve heard of Joe,” or “I don’t know Joe,” or whatever is true.) And I’m so glad to hear that you’re getting everything you need, I guess, done on time, no difficulties?”
See what she says, and respond by restating what she says. If there were any hesitation, I’d say, “Perhaps I could work with you just on the (whatever she’s mentioned that’s Pain-ful—use her words) issue. Would that be worth doing?”
And if there’s no hesitation now—she says that the company really is getting great service from its accountant—I’d say, “I’m glad you’re in such great shape.”
If she hesitates, I’d say, “Understand you may have a challenge with the (whatever). Let’s set a time to speak about just that part of the situation. Would first thing Monday morning be a possibility for you?” I usually suggest “first thing” on the assumption that if they see me first thing in the morning they won’t have had time to become distracted with other things on the job.
Finally, remember that even if she has a wonderful accountant now, that wonderfulness may not continue indefinitely. You’ve just made a pleasant, positive impression; send a thank you note within four business days and keep in touch by sending an article of interest to her within 30 days of the date when you met her, and she’s likely to remember you, if and when her current accountant lets her down.
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