Following on from our blog 'If you don't ask, you don't get!' we started to look at 7 conversion steps to get your prospects on board. The first of these was the planning and preparation stages where we looked at what is required before you make contact with your prospects. The next stage is the introduction as you will now be suitably informed about your client from your research or at least have some idea to start a meaningful discussion.
Step 2 - Introduction
The introduction is the key part of the process that will determine how your prospect will start to open up about their needs. Your first contact maybe by phone then follow up meeting or ideally a straight meeting request but the key parts of this stage are:
Introduction - Introducing yourself and your business is the ice breaker to a good meeting and the usual rules apply as if it was a cold call. Even though you may have been referred from a current client it is the best approach to briefly introduce yourself and your business as though you did not know each other and give your business card and company brochure to the client, if you have prepared one.
Purpose - Always reinforce your reason for wanting the meeting with the client which could be fact finding and then presenting your solution. At this stage you may be already warmed up by your client referral and the prospect may start to talk about their reason to switch accountant. It is important to make a mental note or write down what you can before starting the meeting.
Agenda - In order to drive the course of the meeting it is important to outline the agenda so that you not only drive the meeting but help signpost your professional aims. So typically it could be:
- find out the needs of the client/reinforce what you have found out;
- fact find more about their current situation;
- present your solution; and
- answer any queries and how you can both go forward.
Hidden inside the above agenda are the next five steps which mean you can more or less follow this as a general rule.
Step 3 - Needs Identification
You will have done some preparation in your first stage to start a good conversation going about their business and hopefully have some examples of their business model to hand. Before you go into presentation mode it is important to understand and reinforce your understanding of their business and needs.
The questioning process is important at this stage to uncover what you do not know and check back on what you have researched and make presenting the solution more effective. The first stage is to openly share what you have learnt then start with a few open questions about their business and needs. These questions should be used to uncover facts you need to know and should be open and conversational otherwise it could make the meeting flat. Closed questions then could be used to check that you have understood what they have said e.g. 'So you need an online service?' or 'Am I right in saying you would like to submit your accounts online?' Both responses give straight answers and you get to home in on the solution.
Having an effective introduction and directing meeting through a proposed agenda gives you more control and helps to create the appropriate rapport as you are creating the conversation around the prospective client. Having the right questions ready to test your research or find out more creates an effective funnel for getting the answers you need to proceed to the next stage.
Step 4 and Step 5 on the next blog will take you the stages of making an effective presentation focusing on the solution and dealing with objections.
If you have missed our previous blogs you can follow the series by clicking on the titles: Original article and Step 1.
Contributed Raj Rajput and Norman Allison.