Prospects hate sales pitches. You probably do, too. How do you like to sit still while someone presents PowerPoint slides to you?
People don’t like boring pitches, but they love to learn. So turn your next prospect meeting into a collaborative, value-added session for the person you are wooing. Show them what it would be like to actually work with you and your firm; let them see you in the role of advisor as they take on the role of client.
A pitch that becomes a working session should be simultaneously educational, entertaining, engaging, and value-added.
If you’ve positioned yourself, and prepared well for the actual meeting, you’ll be in great shape to do a standout job at what often is the final step in the acquisition process.
Remember these 6 behaviors
- First, reset the agenda once more at the start of your meeting. Make sure you understand what they are most interested in hearing about. Just ask, “Per our previous conversation, we had planned to cover the following five points. What would you like us to emphasize as we go through our meeting?”
- Second, focus the discussion mostly on their finances, not your business. They know who you are, and if they want more information about certain capabilities, they’ll ask. So keep the material about you to a minimum. The majority of your content should focus on their issues, their challenges, and how you can help them.
- Third, pace the meeting and make it engaging. Have a great conversation—don’t talk at your prospect. Every four or five minutes, pause. Ask if there are any questions. Check for understanding. Ask a question yourself to draw them out—for example, “Is this an approach you’ve tried before? What worked well? What didn’t work?” Ideally, you’ll equally share the air time and talk about the same amount of time.
- Fourth, use your media effectively. Don’t use a densely written document as your presentation—I’ve seen people put up PowerPoint slides that had hundreds of words on them and large tables full of data. If you use slides at all, they should be spare and emphasize graphics, photographs and illustrations to make your points. If you are meeting in person, consider using wall charts, placemats, and other alternative means to tell your story. Also don’t forget about video, which can work both in person or in a virutal setting.
- Fifth, make it entertaining and memorable. Use humor. Tell relevant stories about work you’ve done with similar clients. Push their thinking. If you’re bland and boring they won’t remember you. You need to stand out.
- Sixth, model what it’s like to work with you. Bring key members of your team who will actually do the work. Make sure that everyone has a role, and that it’s not just the senior people who talk—give some air time to your mid-level people. Clients often cite capabilities and industry experience as key factors in working with someone, but they also cite the quality of the team and chemistry with them.
I rarely compete head-to-head with other firms, but a few years ago I did find myself in that position. Instead of making a presentation to the client, I ran the two-hour session as though it were a workshop with a group of their executives. For example, I handed out a one-page case study about a difficult client relationship dilemma, one that I told them I might use in a workshop with their professionals. We discussed it, just like we would in the actual program. I told them, “This is how I’ll interact with your people—I want you to experience it here.” Needless to say, I won the project.
What have you found to be effective in making successful meetings with prospects?