Thank God, you finally got that hot meeting with the hard-to-reach decision maker after marketing your heart out. You actually got an appointment with your prospect where they’re going to give you some honest-to-goodness time to sit down with you. This could be it, your big break, the chance you’ve been waiting for, the summer vacation you’ve skipped three years-in-a-row because you couldn’t afford it.
Well, let me tell you about some ways you can blow it so that you do exactly the opposite of that…
1. Talk only about your products and services
If you don’t have what I’ve coined “self-amnesia” you have lost your prospect at “hello”. As a 20 year-veteran marketing manager at some pretty big companies, I can tell you that after listening to thousands of vendor presentations, I no longer care how many locations or employees you have. I don’t care who your other clients are and what you’ve done with them if it doesn’t relate to my own problems. I don’t care about how long you’ve been in business or how innovative your system or product is. I only care about–you got it-ME and my company (or brand’s issues). So if you want to blow the meeting, go ahead and tell me every single thing about little ol’ you.
2. Never mention their pain
At 39 weeks of pregnancy, I once sat through a 3-hour vendor presentation about a unique new merchandising display that had facial recognition software so it could intercept women differently than men and play back different messages for both groups. I was so frustrated about the fact that the brand I was representing (I was the Marketing Manager the vendor was trying to sell this to) wasn’t ONCE mentioned in the 3 hours that I almost gave birth in anger that day.
3. Don’t research their pain and market buzz
Similar to the above point, if you don’t talk to the prospect’s own clients, other vendors and do diligent online research about what potential issues you can help them with, you might as well just call and cancel your meeting. I taught my clients to count shelves, take pictures of competitors and bring samples of new products in the prospect’s industry to the meeting. It always wowed decision makers because most vendors don’t bother. They do the bare minimum and show up with the same canned presentation.
4. Have Verbal Diarrhea
I refer you back to the 3-hour-non-stop monologue that passed as a vendor meeting mentioned in Point #2 above. I couldn’t even get a word in edge-wise that day. The only way I could get attention was to interrupt the verbal flow of the vendor to ask to go to the washroom. Be concise and let the prospect tell you everything you need to help them. There’s a reason why professional coaching exams fail the student if the 80% listen to 20% talk ratio is violated.
5. Don’t bring anything of value
If you don’t bring me ideas, samples, news, trends or even lunch, I’m not sure why you’re taking up space in my jam-packed calendar. Oh and by the way, bringing examples of how you’ve helped other clients doesn’t help me if they are in a completely unrelated industry, have unrelated pain and have triple the budgets that I do for my project. It’s all about what’s of value to ME.
6. Treat it Like a Meet and Greet
I had an argument recently with a client who had scored a huge meeting with a very hard-to-reach prospect about whether the first meeting was a meet-and-greet or an opportunity to talk about how to resolve a key issue the company was struggling with. My client didn’t want to be aggressive. She wanted to treat it like a social visit. I told her that executives are busy. If you don’t wow them the first time, you will not be invited a second time. People are not looking for new friends in business meetings with vendors, they’re looking for solutions. Luckily my client listened to me and aced her meeting, walking away with a potential order!
7. Don’t Co-Create a Solution
If you want to waste your meeting with a hard-to-get and harder-to-hold decision maker, assume everything. Tell them you know it all. You’re the expert aren’t you? Never mind that they’ve probably hired many vendors before you for the same exact problem. Never mind that they know what worked and didn’t work. Instead, why not ask them about what ideas they have and share yours along the way of co-creating what a solution could look like? I guarantee you’ll be invited back for the next step.
8. Don’t Ask For the Decision Tree
You scored the meeting so who cares who else is involved in the decision-making? How does the decision process work anyway? If you don’t find this out early, how can you possibly build a proposal that doesn’t include the expectations of the final decision makers? When a prospect asks for my proposal so they can send it to their boss, I ask to meet their boss and have the same co-creation meeting with them first. If they balk, I walk.
9. Don’t Get A Next Date
Congratulations, you’ve had a great meeting. Everyone is smiling, warm feelings are flowing, lots of ideas were shared. Even so, you are dead in the water if you leave without setting the next meeting appointment in stone. If it’s about checking availabilities, at least have agreement of when you’ll nail down the date. Many a meeting has been wasted by this missed step.
10. Don’t Follow Up Properly
If you don’t leave that meeting and send a thank you, a next steps note, a timeline, a contract or some way to properly move the conversation forward, you will have wasted that amazing meeting.
So you might be the world record winner for getting hard-to-reach decision makers to meet with you but if you’re not implementing these suggestions, your client conversion rates will be very low. Take it from someone who hired very few of the many vendors who pitched me. Not because I’m a mean person but because that’s just how the corporate world works. There is lots of competition and lots of options out there. So stand out and deliver like a pro.
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