As you will no doubt be aware by the very fact you have landed on this page, Alchemis is a new business agency. We help our clients however we can to achieve their business growth objectives and this includes helping them maximise every opportunity we generate for them.
The first stage in this process is usually through highly targeted cold outreach, predominantly using the phone.
From our decades of experience, we know that developing a really tight proposition that works on the phone is a skill in itself, as is being motivated and confident enough to pick up the phone, call between 60-100 prospects every day in order to generate meaningful conversations with 8-10 of them.
The second stage is the initial cold meeting which is the first real chance for our clients to start building a relationship with that prospect. In this climate, prospects don’t have the time to meet prospective agency partners for no reason, so there will always be a reason to meet.
This need will range from the explicit:
‘I have a brief and these guys might be able to help me’
to the implied
‘I’m not sure I’m getting everything I need from my current agency, these guys might be able to add something new…’
Your job in the first meeting is to raise the level from implied to explicit and walk out of the meeting knowing that you’ve done everything you can to try and realise that opportunity. Ideally, you will leave that first meeting with a second meeting in the diary – or at the very least, an agreement on how often, how and when you’re going to keep in touch with the prospect. On this note, we often recommend that Alchemis is better placed than our clients to nurture these slow burn opportunities, as frankly we are often better at creating reasons to keep in touch and have the time to do so!
The first meeting must therefore focus on finding out as much as you can about the prospect’s challenges and priorities in order to understand how you can potentially help them. It is NOT an opportunity for you to show them an endless stream of irrelevant and meaningless work.
We often find during coaching sessions with our clients that asking the right questions is not something they prepare for first meetings, whereas it is possibly one of the most critical parts of the meeting – how else can you find out what’s keeping them awake at night if you don’t ask?
To help you develop a series of questions, here are my top tips:
1. One of the golden rules in selling is that the more you give, the more you’ll get back. So……part of your preparation should include researching the prospect’s market and their competition so that you can develop an opinion, observation or insight into their situation.
There are three benefits to this approach:
2. Do NOT ask the prospect ‘situational’ questions that you could have researched and found out before the meeting; examples of situational questions are:
These questions are boring to your prospect and show that you haven’t done your research, which in turn indicates that you’re not prepared to put the extra effort in to work with them
3. Remember the basic rule of asking open questions in order to elicit a response; open questions begin with:
4. Be careful of WHY questions as they can come across as challenging, as in:
‘Why did you choose your incumbent agency?’
Always try to qualify/soften these questions with a reason for asking, as in:
‘It would be really useful for me to understand the main reasons you chose to work with your incumbent agency so that I can show you how we meet those criteria’
Other ways of softening a challenging or sensitive question (such as those about budgets) include:
5. There is always room for closed questions too in a meeting; they begin with a verb (are you, did you, can you, is it….) and can be used to:
6. Prepare the information you need from a first meeting to help you prepare the questions you therefore need to ask. For example, you need to know:
7. Do NOT just fire a series of seemingly unrelated questions at the prospects – they will begin to feel like you’re interrogating them. Ensure that your questions have a pattern and a theme and always qualify them beforehand – this requires preparation, but always be prepared for the meeting to go in a completely different direction as well!
8. Always probe a bit further – once you’ve asked a question, follow it up with another one. This has several advantages:
9. Other techniques/tips include:
10. Finally, always ask questions which highlight your proposition or proposed solution and when you’ve asked a question, BE QUIET and let them answer it!
Obviously, these tips only touch the surface of the complexity and nuances of first meetings – you have to appeal to the prospect’s rational need of wanting to know more about your agency, clients and case studies as well as being able to tap into their emotional buying motives.
For more information on how we help our clients secure business, do get in touch.