BD tips and insights

By Linda Julian

Getting to meet with a new prospect

November 6, 2013 | Posted in: Business Development Skills | Tags:

“I want your work” doesn’t mean that a new prospect will automatically fit you into their schedule.

If you have a high enough profile and big reputation, those down the pecking order may be flattered that you want to meet.  However, those further up the decision-making tree are mostly far too busy to allocate precious time to you just because you think it’s a good idea.

Neither is “I want to learn about your business” sufficient reason to agree to your request for a meeting.  Your purpose is transparent:  to ask a prospect to spend their already pressured time educating you about their business, you’d best offer some solid reasons that this would be a worthwhile investment for them.

“We’re a great and successful professional firm” doesn’t qualify as a valid reason and is unlikely to be sufficient incentive for a prospective client to meet with you.

“Let me take you to lunch” coming from a near stranger is mildly worrying  –  what are the chances of a good prospective client being so hungry, lunch-deprived, or keen for a free meal that this one will work ?

If you want to get together with a new prospect, arm yourself with at least three solid business reasons they should allocate time before you make the initial approach.

Solid business reasons are not:

  • coincidences such as you both attending the same conference some time back
  • extravagant claims like “we can handle every type of matter”
  • negative assertions about their current professional provider
  • argumentative comments like “you must be really unhappy with your current firm”
  • opening lines like “you’re paying way too much now” which show disrespect.

The best business reasons focus on:

  • the value proposition you offer the prospective client
  • specific value you have created for other similar clients
  • important differences the prospective client will notice in working with you and your firm.

Approach a new prospect:

  • with warm courtesy and authenticity
  • on a peer-to-peer basis  –  neither arrogant nor obsequious
  • appreciating that their time is valuable and never taking it for granted
  • respectful of their current choices of professional advisers
  • with a series of specific business reasons which communicate clearly the benefits they can expect from investing precious time with you.

Getting to meet with a new prospect is not about what you want from them  –  it should be deeply imbued with what’s in it for them.  And, if you haven’t quite figured that out yet, work out three solid business reasons before you make your call.

For coaching, workshops and advice to make the most of meetings with new prospects, please get in touch.

Select articles

Feature article

Tender writing tips – Nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply

Tender writing tips – Nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply

Remember, nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply Albert Einstein was spot-on when he said “nothing is so complex that it cannot be explained simply”. Tenders, bids, proposals, and informal pitches for business are not times to show how clever and capable you are by using legalese (I’m looking at you lawyers), […]