It’s a given that you must research the prospect you are to meet. You also know that you must provide your prospect with an insight – a nugget of information that will make him listen to you.
Why? Information clutter has reduced attention span of human beings to less than that of a goldfish; and if you sound like every other salesperson he meets, he will tune out of the conversation and close the meeting quickly. All your preparation will be wasted.
So what can you do to begin understanding your prospect and what drives him?
For one of my prospects who had called us to discuss an initiative he had in mind, we had done the research. However, apart from the usual stuff about his education, and his CV and a few press clippings, we knew very little.
It was then that I came up with the idea that we should approach this problem as if we were writing a piece on his retirement or promotion. We chose promotion, a lucky guess since he was in his mid-fifties when retirement was an equally good option.
We started asking questions that we usually would not ask, for instance:
- How old was he?
- What were his hobbies?
- How would he like to be known in the industry?
- Is he looking for significance or is he looking to leave a legacy?
- What did he say when he took on this position? (Any LinkedIn update?)
We then wrote the article; of about a page. Instead of the standard profile that listed his professional and academic achievements, we wrote a story that assumed the success of this initiative and how it propelled him to become the CEO of a large organization in his industry.
From the article that we had written, we could see that he was keen on making an impact – one which could propel him into a CEO role. He needed to frame the initiative as an industry-defining one. This meant that he was keen on partnering with someone who had the capability to impact the industry as a whole, rather than a vendor who was focused on project outcomes.
When we met him, we started our conversation with an insight on how this proposed initiative would impact the industry as a whole. Our slide deck was about how he will be able to take this initiative to the industry as a whole, and the business models that we could jointly explore.
Needless to say, we were the front-runners throughout the bid.
So, the next time you receive an invite or get an appointment with someone senior, don’t just research his professional profile. Think like a journalist writing an article about a key business event that has happened in your prospect’s career. You will gain more insights into what makes your prospect tick.
Will this make you win every time? No. But it sure will make it very difficult for the prospect to say no to you.
Note : This article was originally published on LinkedIn
Ramesh Dorairaj is consultant, coach and an author. He has 27+ Years of Experience consulting for Fortune 500 companies worldwide. He has groomed 50+ leaders. Has participated in 2.5 Billion $ worth of successful deals. He is a Certified Executive Coach at Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching, Certified Sales Coach and a Certified Proposal Coach.