Today's post is by Meridith Elliott Powell, author of Winning in the Trust and Value Economy.
If you want to get in the door, then you need to give the prospect a reason to open it. Why? The two most important things a business owner or professional has are time and money, and when you ask for an appointment you are taking up both of those; so it better be worth it to meet with you. Try these four strategies to get in the door.
1. Walk a mile in their shoes. Steven Covey said it best: “Seek First to Understand.” If you want to get in the door, then first you must understand why that door is closed and what it means to get it open. Time and money are the two most important resources and assets a business owner, professional, or CEO has, and when you ask to meet with prospects, you are asking them to give up a little of both of those. When your call comes in asking for some one-on-one time, the first two questions they’ll ask are are, “Who is this person, and why should I give up my time?”
All too often, as business-development professionals, we are thinking about the sales calls only from our point of view – why we need to get in the door and why we need this meeting. Get clear in your mind why it is worth it to them to give up both time and money to meet with you. Shift your thinking (and your body language and energy) to ensure they understand that you respect what they are giving up to meet with you, and you clearly understand their return on investment.
2. Give ’em a reason. Imagine you are sitting in your office, busier than you have been in weeks, and the phone rings and your assistant wants to know if she can schedule an hour for you to meet with Bill Connor. You think, “Bill Connor? Who is Bill Connor? Do I know a Bill Connor?”
Your assistant hears the hesitation in your voice and says that he is a relationship manager with VXT Corporation. You think, “VXT? What is VXT? Do I know anyone from VXT?”
OK, you get the drill: if your prospect does not know you nor has never met or heard of you, why should he or she meet with you? Would you give up your precious time or resources to meet with someone you have never met from a company you know nothing about? Your reputation should precede you (if that were George Clooney on the phone, your prospect may not have met him either, but the door would open), and if possible, you need to have found a meeting, a networking event, a connection – some way, somewhere to connect with your prospect before you ask for a meeting.
3. Make it sexy. Invest in your prospects’ success before you even think about their investing in yours. You need to be more attractive, more enticing than all the other business-development officers out there, but remember, the only thing “sexy” to a business owner or CEO is how you can make his or her life easier and business more successful. You need to be ready to do that earlier and often and beyond the scope of just their investing in your products and services.
4. Stay in the game. Sometimes CEOs are just busy – they would meet with you, but the timing is all wrong. Fitting in one more meeting, no matter how valuable, is not going to happen. If you want the doors to open, and if you want to land the business, you need to understand that sometimes it just takes time and patience is a virtue. Stay in the game, continue to find ways to connect and add value, and before you know it, that door will open and the meeting will happen.