And don’t do THESE 3 things to prospects, either. Just. Don’t.
Last week I addressed five things you should never do to a prospect. Here’s a quick recap of how I packed a single prospect call with a bunch of lessons on what not to do.
- took a call from a woman I knew slightly, who said, “I think I might want to work with you”
- totally failed to dig into what made her think I might be able to get her un-stuck
- drowned her in data about the nuts and bolts of what I do
- never heard from her again
(Boy, it’s no less painful when set down in bullet points, is it?)
Unfortunately, as I reviewed this experience, I realized there were yet more mistakes I’d made during that particular interaction. So, on the theory that confession is good for the soul, I’ve decided to spill my guts on the rest of them: Here are three more things never to do to prospects (unless you want to send them away screaming, of course).
Waste time getting data.
If you’re prone to doing data dumps on someone, you’re also likely to be at risk for wanting to gather all the data you can.
And while you’ll definitely need to do this at some point, your initial prospect conversation is not that point!
Your goal during the initial, get-acquainted call with a prospect is two-fold: (1) determine if you want to work with this person and, if so, (2) let her know how much better her life will be for working with you.
You’ll paint a picture of what her life will be like if she continues struggling on her own, and you’ll contrast that with how much less stressed and more satisfied she’ll be if she hires you to propel her forward.
And if you want that picture to be so compelling she feels there’s no way she can say “no” to you, you’ve got to address her emotions: both the pain of going on as she has been and the relief/satisfaction/outright joy of having you in her corner.
So spend your time talking about likely outcomes if she doesn’t hire you: ongoing frustration, eroded confidence, the stress of dwindling financial reserves, and so on. Also let her know the likely outcomes if you do work together: greater mental health, confidence, and security.
Don’t waste your precious time gathering data; you can do that once she’s signed on the bottom line.
Agree to work with her even when your gut is screaming “NO!!!”
A prospect conversation is not just about “selling” the prospect on your ability to solve her problems. It’s equally about the prospect convincing you that she’ll be a pleasure to work with.
There are just two groups of entrepreneurs: Those who have worked with a Client From Hell, and those who will work with a Client From Hell. The smarter you are about asking qualifying questions of your prospect, the longer you can put off becoming a member of Group 2.
Saying “no” to prospects who are not a good fit for you is good self-care, and it’s also in the prospect’s best interests, since it frees them up to find someone with whom they’re a better fit.
Lose control of the conversation.
Chances are you’ve gotten sucked into one of those black-hole conversations where you go in but don’t come out. This often happens when you lose control of the conversation.
Yes, you want to truly hear what your prospect has to say. Yes, you want to uncover her challenges, her pain, and her hoped-for outcomes. No, you don’t want to give her license to take up an hour of your irreplaceable time with a free-association, disorganized, rambling spew of what’s not working for her.
Prospects need to feel confident that you know what you’re doing.
If you’re going to kick serious prospecting butt and end up with clients that are a joy to work with, you must know what your prospecting conversation is intended to accomplish and how it will do so. And that means you need a structure for the call.
And not just any structure – a written structure.
In other words, have your pain-uncovering questions thought up and written out in advance of your call. Leave plenty of space to write in your prospect’s answers. Go through them systematically.
Now, some prospects will undoubtedly wax eloquent when answering your questions, and it will be up to you to rein them in. The best way I’ve found to do that is to prepare, in advance, to strategically interrupt the prospect. The following two-pronged approach works beautifully:
- at the very start of the call, set the expectation that – to maximize the value of your time together – you may occasionally re-direct or focus her (remember to get her agreement to this)
- have several phrases in your back pocket which enable you to respectfully interrupt and re-direct – again, for maximum effectiveness
Remember: You’re good enough to deserve to say “yes” only to the prospects who are right for you – and those prospects deserve to know just how much you can do for them. Use these tools to ensure that your conversations with potential clients really do create win/win situations.
Question: What other ways have you found to avoid those Clients From Hell? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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(BTW, thanks to @markheybo for posting the “don’t do it” image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in business development, marketing and tagged effectiveness. Bookmark the permalink.