The question of how to progress a prospect without being a pushy salesman is one I hear all too often. This is a concern that comes up for so many of us in the accounting profession. The reason for this comes from us being of a fairly technical background coupled with a reactive way of working. As a result, we don’t generally get used to proactive business development efforts. It is easy to see how anything we do, in a proactive way, makes us feel like we are being pushy, even when we are not.
What we have to remember is one very simple rule. It is the golden rule to employ in all your prospect meetings in order to ensure that you never come across as pushy at any given time.
The rule is this.
“You must always understand that you control what happens next but you must also understand that the prospect controls when it happens”.
How can we achieve this?
A Case Study Scenario
We have had a very strong initial meeting with the prospect and we are now looking to move to a second meeting. Now if you start asking, “When can we get a proposal across to you?” or “When can we meet you next?”, this is going to make you feel like you are being pushy.
The reality is that we go into a meeting knowing that we would like a further meeting. That is where we are trying to get to. We need to get to the next conversation where we can go away, process the information we talked about on the first conversation and come up with a proposal or solution for them in the second meeting.
However, the prospect may want to also do some thinking of their own. So, we can say to them, “So, we have had a great opportunity to find out more about each other today. I would love to go away now and think about how we could be of greater support to you. Clearly, you will need to do the same yourself with your fellow Directors. Can I ask when would be an appropriate time for us to come back and meet again?”
Let the client be allowed to be a decision maker too.
They might say to you, “Well, I’ve got this coming up first, I’ve got this and then that, it is going to be weeks…” and so on. That is okay. We will allow that. Let us allow them to dictate the timescale as long as we dictate that there is going to be a further meeting.
We come away with our objective being met and they come away happy with their objective being met. The prospect is happy because they dictated when it was going to happen and they do not feel in any way pressurised, bullied, manipulated or cajoled. What happened was their decision, in their mind, and yet we came out with what we wanted.
If we can deal with a client scenario in this way, we avoid looking pushy by making sure the prospect controls the timetable of events. Whether it is timescales for the next meeting, decisions that have to be made or whatever it is they need to decide, it has put them in control of when things are going to happen. In the meantime, we are able to keep control of what is going to happen and maintain the momentum with the client.
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