Stop! In the Name of Success: Are You Seriously Ready for That Client Meeting?

If you were a boy scout as I was as a kid, you learned the importance of preparation. You worked hard at it. You wanted to please the scout leader. Earn another badge. Best your scout mates.

Little did we know, we were learning the life skill to success.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
— General Colin Powell

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
—  Alexander Graham Bell

The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck.
— Tony Robbins

Preparation may seem obvious to you. But often those in financial sales and professional services fail to prepare. In my 30 year-career, I’ve seen far too many so-called professionals walk into an initial client meeting and wing it.

In situations where I was the prospect, or brought in by a client to vet the pitch of another consulting team, I was utterly surprised by all the fumbling in initial meetings. Consultants entered the prospect’s organization, armed with brochures, pitch books and sales decks, crowing about how good they were, never knowing, understanding, or even asking, about the prospect’s value gap.

Don’t Expect Confessions

Typically, in the initial meeting, the prospect does not confess to his value gap, let alone prioritize it in his constellation of issues.  So how can you sell your value proposition when you don’t know what he values? Well, you can’t.

That’s why 60 percent of these situations end up in the status quo. The prospect politely listens to your story, yet invariably sticks with what he’s already doing. The human brain experiences change as trouble. Going with you means he’s got to change.

As you’ve learned in my book MERGE—Simplify the Complex Sale, top advisors do their research, structure questions based on what they learn, then use them to uncover and quantify key issues that the advisor and the prospect agree are the issues to solve.

Preparation is as essential to selling your value proposition to prospects as trust is to creating a lasting client relationship.

Question Behind the Question

Even though many advisors today do research and prep for meetings, the more thorough you are, the more likely you’ll book the sale. Missing or misunderstanding key information can turn a good meeting bad. You must structure good questions to clarify the unknown. Missing even small piece of information, can radically alter perception. Allow me to share an example:

Imagine the story of a forty-three year old man who, on one bitterly cold January day, was sworn in as chief executive of his country. By his side stood his predecessor, a famous general who, fifteen years earlier, had commanded his nation’s armed forces in a war that resulted in the defeat of Germany. The young leader was raised in the Roman Catholic faith. He spent the next five hours watching parades in his honor, then stayed up till three o’clock in the morning celebrating his victory.

Who is this 43-year-old executive?  No doubt, you assumed John F. Kennedy, yes?

But I didn’t share one small piece of information.

The date is January 30, 1933. The man is Adolf Hitler.

We make dangerous assumptions when we don’t prepare well.  Assumptions about our products and services, and how they fit prospects. And we do it without digging deep into the story we think we know.

Another instructive example.  In this video, watch how one firm in a highly competitive field outpaces its competition with solid preparation. Then, qualifies the prospect’s value gap, and only then sells its value proposition.  All of us can learn and relearn a valuable lesson from this Bain case study:

See you on the upside,

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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