I am writing on Valentine’s Day and I confess that I believe in love at first sight. It does not always happen but sometimes, one or both members of the couple “know” that the other is someone special and that the relationship is probably destined to be significant. Some claim that they knew almost immediately that they would marry a particular person and that in fact the marriage took place (I know three such couples).
Business relationships can follow the same pattern. One or both parties may sense very early in preliminary discussions that there is great potential in the relationship or conversely, that it is likely there will be no future. Create some good luck for yourself by making a good first impression and making the most of your first five minutes with a prospective client. Success lies at the intersection of good fortune and preparation.
Minute 1 Grab attention
Create “verbal packaging” that portrays your product or service as relevant to prospective clients. Communicating the relevance of what you sell comes from knowing what clients value about your offerings and deftly articulating those benefits for prospects as you describe why, where, when and how to use your product or service. If you’ve had time to prepare, then do your homework to get a good sense of that individual’s business and construct a personalized pitch. Your product/service must solve a problem or create a competitive advantage.
Minute 2 Talk details
If your prospect either admits that what you sell is needed, or at least continues to listen with interest, then ask a few questions to find out where you stand. Is there a specific and immediate problem or goal? What is the time-table? Float solutions that your product/service will provide. This stage allows the prospect to visualize the process and outcomes of doing business with you.
Minute 3 Propose solutions
Explain further the solutions that your product/service will provide and persuade the prospect to define the goal or problem if that has not been done so already.
Minute 4 Establish timeline
Lay out a road map for implementing your solution and completing the sale. Define the operational processes that will be followed to put your product/service in motion. Now the client will know that he/she must agree, or decline, to proceed.
Minute 5 Close sale
Tell the prospect what has to happen to enable the sale. Confirm that you have a sale (“Are you ready to move forward with this and when would you like to start? You would like the project to be completed by what date?”). Offer to send a contract or confirmation email to lay out the steps, the timeline and project milestones. Confirm the project budget and negotiate/agree on the project fee (or hourly rate), the amount of money that must be paid to you before you begin working and when future payments will become due. Confirm payment options. Say thank you and shake hands with your new client!
Thanks for reading,