Okay, so you might be the world’s most interesting person. But the prospective client you’re meeting with wants you to be interested in talking about her and her issues, not about you or your firm.
Imagine you injured your arm, that it appears to be broken, and that you have been referred to an orthopedic surgeon. He meets you in his examining room and starts a conversation with you:
So, Mr. Schussel? I’m Dr. Gezortenplatt. Let me explain what we’ll be doing. First, I’m going to tell you about myself—my medical background, my board certification, my specialties, and a little bit about how my practice works and the procedures we follow. Then, I’m going to examine your arm and ask you some questions about your health…
Ouch! Would you want to have that guy take care of you? Of course not! You’d want him to focus on you, right from the start:
Doc, forget all that; take a look at my dangling arm!
Would you want your lawyer to be selling his services, his firm, and his education before he asked you what your problem is? Of course not!
Yet, I see consultants, financial advisors, and insurance agents every day who have actually been trained to talk about themselves first—before talking about the prospective client and what he or she needs.
The excuse that bosses give me for teaching these professionals to start with a conversation about themselves is that they’re young, and they need to let prospective clients know that they have sufficient expertise or training. Or, bosses tell me that the company is not well established, and the professionals need to let their prospects know that they are real players in the industry.
But expertise is established by the quality of the questions a professional or salesperson asks—not by an explanation of him or his company.
Recognize the dangling arm, and take a look at it. Ask questions. Determine the truth about whether you can help, and how.
It is a great idea to start any meeting with an agenda, but the agenda should sound a bit more like this:
Before we get started, did you have any specific questions you wanted to ask me or something that you wanted to tell me? [Response.] Great. Now, let me explain how this meeting will go: First, I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions about your situation at the moment—what you’re doing, why you’re doing it that way, what’s working, what isn’t, and so on. Then, if there’s anything I see I can help you with…
Your agenda could even include, as a final item, a discussion of people your prospect knows who also have dangling limbs—people who should have the opportunity to seek your aid.
Whatever you do, save explaining why you’re the right person to help until you’ve really identified prospective clients’ wants or needs. If they have questions about your background or expertise, they’ll ask.
Focus your conversation on your prospect and his dangling arm, and you’ll increase the likelihood that if you have the skills and tools to fix it, you’ll be the one he hires to do the job.
Want to become a master at growing your business by learning how to show interest in your clients’ problems? Tell me more. In the meantime, keep REACHING…