“GETTING NEW CLIENTS: DEMYSTIFYING THE INITIAL CONVERSATION WHEN SELLING PROFESSIONAL SERVICES”
A WEBINAR BY GREG CHAMBERS
A WEBINAR BY GREG CHAMBERS
Join dozens of other successful professional service firms and bring Greg’s “Getting New Clients” workshop to your team.
Are you putting in the time and effort to generate new business but not getting the results you’d expect?
A feature of my work is using FIT to design individual sales and marketing processes that clients use to find new business opportunities. We focus on overcoming the challenges in communicating to persuade and engaging in selling tasks that you can live with. Especially the initial conversation and everything leading up to it, which leads to being twice as effective with half the effort.
Getting New Clients: Demystifying the initial conversation in professional services is part of an all-new program designed and delivered by Greg Chambers focused on overcoming the challenges around lead generation for selling complex professional services. This seminar is designed for service professionals that want speed up their sales process without alienating clients or acquaintances. As a bonus, prospects and clients love the process because it respects their intelligence and involves them from the start.
Attendees can expect the following outcomes:
This unique webinar used real stories from Greg’s experiences with clients and focused on matching the customer’s decision process to your lead generation process. Greg has used FIT to design lead generation processes in multiple industries and this presentation will help anyone desiring better results from their business development efforts.
Join dozens of other successful professional service firms and bring Greg’s “Getting New Clients” workshop to your team.
Hey, good morning. This is Greg Chambers – Chambers Pivot Industries – and this morning I am going to do a part of my Getting New Clients Workshop. Getting New Clients is a day and a half long seminar that I do, and this is actually one portion of it inside this day and a half getting new clients – new business development – for people who are in the business of selling their smarts. I’m calling this demystifying the initial conversation because sometimes that transition into – the first conversation into talking about business is often the most difficult for us. We just want to make it a little less intimidating by giving ourselves some – a framework to work within.
The goals of this – the next 40 minutes – normally, this takes – I don’t do 100 percent of this, but usually this section would take about an hour and a half with exercises in the seminar. We’re going to roll through this in about 45 minutes because I’m not taking any questions. The goals of this are to identify the right prospects. Right after you listen to this, you should be able to understand better what I mean by identifying the right prospects, recognizing true economic buyers, getting permission on – by using equal parts IQ and EQ, how to trade in ideas, and how to customize your process, which is really the work that I do is I help people customize the process for themselves.
Let’s get into it. The way I have this structured is this is just an intimate conversation between me and you, and I’m going to give you three big ideas. I’m going to use these – I’m pointing this direction because it’s over here, but it’s actually right there – is I’m going to give you three big ideas – some big frames to work within – and then we’ll leave with four tactics – actual tactics that we can put together right now. Usually, I suggest you pick one of those and run with it, but we’ll run through the three and then the four, and then we’ll be all done.
Big Idea #1 – Don’t Pitch Everyone
The first big idea is you don’t have to pitch everyone. One of the challenges in business is we do like to say, gosh, business can come from anywhere. You just never know who you’re going to bump into, right? You hear these stories all the time. I was just standing in line to buy a hot dog at the Green Bay Packer game, and I bumped into so and so and it led to this and this. Those are great stories because they’re great stories, but if we’re trying to develop our business on purpose, the first thing we need to do is we need to make sure that we’re talking to – that we’re focusing our effort on the right people. You’re always going to need somebody who can actually select and pay for your services, right? That’s our economic buyer in a broad sense. Once you’ve met people who can pay for and use your services, you need to make sure that your values align, right? That you have matching outcomes that you’re after and beliefs that you work within. There’s nothing worse than trying to work with somebody who you have a fundamental disagreement with. I always say that there’s a value match that we’re trying to establish right away, and then and only then does it matter what the problem or opportunity is and then you being able to apply your services to that.
With that in mind, the reason this is important is because you – the more time you spend talking to people who are not – who do not – are not economic buyers and do not match your values, the less time you have for actual business development, right? If you had to choose, right, you could work through and talk with a bunch of influencers and other people who are really important, or you could go to – you could meet with one economic buyer a week, and your business would change dramatically. Let’s get in front of it.
The question people ask is, “Well, Greg, how do you do it,” and to that I’m going to refer to this grid I have on the side. On the x-axis, we have product complexity from simple – boy, it’s – this is going to throw me off. It’s from simple to complex. The plus side is complex. You work in the complex side. Simple, to me, is something like a pen, right? You don’t need a lot of advice to buy a pen. However, if it’s the first time that you’ve ever invested in something like Cloud storage and you know nothing about Cloud storage, to you that’s a complex product, and that’s probably the key to the x-axis is it’s really – it’s doesn’t lie within you. What you do may sound – may be very simple to you, and it may be you know it like the back of your hand. If your customer does not, then it’s a complex product.
Budget control is everything from – on the bottom, budget control is I have a set budget. When I used to run a little division of a company, I had a $5,000 budget. Nobody had to – I didn’t get questioned on this $5,000 that I would spend towards staff development, for instance. I got to choose to put that in control. That’s – I have a very set budget on the bottom. Up at the very top, though, is budget prioritization, right? When I ran my own company, I got to decide where all that money went, and if I had set aside $5,000 for staff development, but then I had a new opportunity that came along in – who knows what it was – to buy advertising, I could reallocate that money. At the very top of budget control is I have complete budget control. I can prioritize. On the very bottom, it’s set for me.
The world you work in, and if you don’t, the rest of this is going to be pretty boring, but the world you work in is really complex products – Out there on the tip of product complexity because everything you do is customized and it really depends, right? Well, Greg, how do you solve this? Well, it depends. If that’s your answer, then it’s complex, and the people that you want to deal with are the people who can prioritize hiring you and prioritize your budget. What I’m – what they all have in common is that in that world, right, each of these boxes has its own way of dealing with it. Like down here, it’s if you have a simple product and low budget control, then what you’re looking for is just make it easy for them, right? On the opposite, if you have low budget control, but it’s a complex product, then it’s train me how to use it.
What are target market is looking for from you is enlighten me. Show me. Teach me. Let me know something that I haven’t known before about how it is that your product works and why it’s important to me, right, because that’s my job. At that level, my job is to oversee the direction of my division – to oversee the direction of my entire company, and, I need to have these big ideas. I don’t need specifically – I don’t need to know how you do it, but I do need to know what it is that you do and why it is that it would be important to me. That’s the first thing is you don’t have to pitch everyone.
A story that may help bring this together – I used to sell computer training. In computer training, one of the things we sold was Excel classes. You had Excel level 1, 2, and 3. It’s a pretty simple product. All I needed to do was I just needed to make sure that it fit into people’s budget. Our number one selling product was called The Club, and, You could train somebody on all of the Microsoft Office products. I think at the time it was like $997, but we found that most people had staff development budgets of $1,000. Each class sold for $225, but you could buy the access to all the classes for $1,000, and it was an easy staff development expense they could just take it on. That to me is a simple product, and then that’s how – we just needed to make it easy for them to purchase.
On the other end over here, I was helping somebody with tax credits – Complex instruments. The first question is like who buys tax credits if you don’t know what a tax credit is? Well, guess what, there’s a lot of companies that – especially if they’re working on a – if anybody gets compensated in the company on _____, they would be interested in this tax credit world. That’s the first thing, right? We’re talking about finding an economic buyer, and then moving up to shared values, right, and one of the shared values is that they need to be compensated in a way that they actually care about earnings per share, and then these tax credits become much more attractive. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that’s the world we’re working in. You don’t have to pitch everybody. What you need to do is you need to make sure that you’re working in a world where people are going to be interested in enlightenment on that. That’s the first big idea I have for you. Discard my used cheat sheet cards to the side.
Big Idea #2 – One Size Does Not Fit All
My second one is one approach does not fit all. I’ve got another great graphic for you. Your approach to everybody does not need to be – like you don’t need to get a – like this is how I approach clients. You need to be a little more sophisticated in that in that it’s this is how I approach a particular type of client, and it’s on a scale. You’re going to work with people over time. I always look at it on the two axes are relationship. What kind of relationship do I have with this person? Do they know who I am and how well do they know me? How well do they trust me, right, because that’s that whole trust, and if you’ve ever seen me go through the whole trust equation, there is a – we can actually put a little equation together that shows where trust is, and have I demonstrated any value to them before?
On the relationship piece, are they a stranger or are they all the way to a confidant, right? They tell me their deepest, darkest secrets. Demonstrated value – is it a new prospect or a long-term client? For each one of those, one, two, three, and four – each one of those quadrants, your approach needs to be slightly different, and this is why. Most people are like, “Oh, I want everybody to be like my long-term clients that trust me implicitly with everything.” They have their own set of challenges that we’ll talk about when we go through. Actually, I do a whole thing on tactics on here to wind this up, but sometimes way up here, right, they’ve put you in this little box. They know exactly what you do, and they know how you do it. You’re kind of stuck up here, but then way down here, they have no idea who you are or what you do. How are you going to treat these two people differently when you are trying to bring them new ideas?
I have a story to tell you. When I first started, there’s a large employer in town that I thought, “You know what? I could really help them because I can see a few things that they’re trying to do, and I’ve got a way to add value to this equation.” I was going to enlighten them on a way to work together. The problem is is that the person who owns it, which I assume, right – it’s a midsize company, so even up like $120 million – $150 million – there’s still really one person who prioritizes budget inside of that closely held company. I wanted to get in front of him, but for the most part, he’s a stranger, and it’s a new prospect. He’s never done any work, and I was brand new, He knows nothing about me. What is my objective there? I’ve either got to move him from a stranger to more of a confidant, right? I’ve got to go from I don’t know who you are to, oh, you’re somebody who I can work with and trust, or I’ve got to move up and I’ve got to say, “You don’t know the work I do, but here, I can give you some – I can demonstrate ways that I can benefit your business,” right? The value is not the value that I provide as much as it’s the value that they perceive that I provide. How’s that for screwy – going back and forth?
I gave myself two years to work into this relationship. The first pieces are – up here was developing intellectual property that applied to his business and sending it to him. The other one was asking people I knew could they introduce me so that – could I borrow some of their relationship to work with them to move up? That’s what I’m talking about when we’re moving along there because in a perfect world, right, we could move this direction all the way up to this is what you do, but my main point is you just don’t treat – you don’t treat these people the same way when you’re doing your work. You need to have an approach that works for each one of them. You can’t see outside of my – Wilson is protecting the perimeter – Wilson, my border collie. That’s number two. Number one was you don’t have to pitch everyone. Number two is one approach does not fit all.
Big Idea #3 – Make the most of your strengths
Now, the last one is – this is – I just finished this – the book on this – The Human Beings Guide to Business Growth, and it’s really built around this particular concept, which is FIT – I call it FIT, as you can see on there, and this is using your individual strikes to get the job done. What I mean by this is any time you have a task in front of you, whether you’re good at it or not, if you can apply your strengths – You’re perceived this is what I think that I am good at or a way that I like to approach things – if I can apply that to the task, I’m more likely to get it done, and I’m more likely to do it in a way that doesn’t destroy me emotionally or actually provide results that I can’t live with because I didn’t like exactly how I did it.
The way that this graphic works is I take results, right – If you have zero effort down here, and you’re probably going to get zero results, right? If I’m trying to get something done, and I’m not – actually, I’m not trying to get it done, I’m probably not going to get it done, right? Those are the results, and then over time, if I’m giving more effort, right, my – I get better results. However, you can’t work at 100 percent all the time is really the big concept behind this. There is a law of diminishing returns represented by this outside portion where I’m overworked, I’m working out of fear, I’m simply doing it because I feel obligated to the job, but my returns start to diminish over time, even though I’m putting in supreme effort. What you’re really after is inside of here, where we’re optimized, energized, and we’re working inside of our self-interest, and for the long-term, that’s where we can generate the largest amount of results. The way that this works in the initial conversation is when you’re having that initial conversation, you need to make sure you’re doing it in your own way.
The other part of this is I suggest everybody takes the VIA of character strengths, and I apologize that you hear these clicks. I know that this microphone picks up all those clicks dramatically. Go to VIA – I think it’s viacharacterstrengths.com or something like that. It’s free. You can take the test. It will rank you on I want to say it’s like 36 character strengths, and these are how you perceive yourself is what this is. This is a self-diagnostic. When you finish with it, you should say, “Oh, you know what, that – yeah, that pretty much sounds like me. These top three sound like me,” and then we apply it.
Let me give you an example. A lot – and this is – these two are unique to as I do work with professional services professionals – accounting, law, engineering, architecture – these show up over and over again. Love of learning. The ability to assimilate and actually to the enjoyment of looking for information. It’s a self-described trait, right? It would be like me saying to myself, “You know, one thing that I – one of my character strengths is that I love learning and I love doing this.” How would I approach – how would I use that to approach new people is the question, right? That’s my question is I’d say how is it that we can use that strength so that it’s easier for you to do it because right now how many times are you doing it in a year?
This guy I have in mind, he’s a junior accountant, so – and he wants to work towards partner, and, They’re investing in him to work towards partner, and to do that, he’s got to go find new clients. How many new client conversations have you had this year? Well, not really very many, but I need to do more of them. Okay, but if we had to put a number on it, what is that number? Well, I don’t know. Every other month – are you having one every other month? Yes. Okay, Can we say six? We just say six. What are we trying to get to this next year? I mean, truly, if we can double that to 12, and we can be more effective inside those 12 conversations, you’re going to see some results inside of that year, one, that’s going to get you on your path to partnership, right, down the road, which is not happening inside of this next year.
How can we apply love of learning to approaching economic buyers, and that’s the question, and the answer varies, but for the most part, it’s turning it into – you’ve got to turn it into a learning game. I’m going to use this language, and I’m going to try this event, and I’m going to see if I can make this happen, and that becomes my A in my A-B test, and then after I’ve run that through four people, I’m going to try the next four with a slight alteration, and then I’m going to compare results. That is an easy way. We only do it the 8 times – or the 12 times a year that he’s feeling good. Like I’m not asking him when he’s all beat up or during tax season. During tax season, we’re not going to do any, right? We’re going to miss a few months in there, but other months when he’s feeling more relaxed and able to approach more people, we’re going to apply his love of learning.
Here’s another one that shows up in there is critical thinking. I’ve got an investment bank analyst who wants to bring in more business for the firm because obviously you get compensated for it, right? Ultimately, that’s your self-interest. His self-interest is I want a great share in things, and by rain-making – by bringing in the business, I’m going to be able to do that. How can we apply that critical thinking to the initial conversation and make the initial conversation easier?
One is – for him, all we did was he loved to write at the same time. That’s what we did. We had him start writing his thoughts on topics that the economic buyer needed to be educated on so that then we enlighten them, and, Initially he would e-mail them. Then we got brave enough that we could actually make a phone call and then send the information, all the way to let’s get together and we could set up a coffee, and then I’m going to share my research with you.
It’s not like I made this stuff up. McKinsey built their entire business off of this model, and in doing this, they just didn’t necessarily apply strengths, right? Those people did it – they were hired to go find this business that way. I’m saying all of us, regardless of how salesy or how comfortable you are in persuading people, you can apply your strengths to this, and you can get this done. Those are the three big – the big ideas I have for you that just kind of orient us.
Let’s run backwards through them.
You don’t have to talk to everybody. You just want to talk to the people that you’re going to be enlightening – that want to be enlightened.
You don’t treat them all the same when you’ve identified them. They’re going to be in different areas in this grid and, so, plan according, and know that it’s a process. It’s not an event.
It’s not going to happen all at once, even though we’d love it to, and then when you do actually do your approach, make sure that it fits with who you are because you’ll get more out of it. You won’t have to work too hard for it to where you get burned out and then you won’t do too little of it where you never get to see the results of your effort. Those are my three big ideas.
What do you do next?
The next thing you want to know is how do we do these things? Let’s move into tactics.
Tactic #1 – Bring ideas
The first idea that’s a tactic is to bring ideas. I talked about the IQ-EQ piece of things. This is the IQ piece, and generally I’ve not met anybody inside of the professional services who is not extremely bright, and, As being extremely bright, you generally score really well on the IQ piece of things. If IQ is intelligence quotient, just to make – I guess just to define that we’re on the same page – We have IQ, which is our intelligence quotient, right? EQ is the – oh, man, what a terrible que. EQ is the study of our emotional – like how are we interacting with people? If you contract these two things, when people are high IQ, low EQ, it’s painful because they’re just – they’re brainiacs that are just talking to you, and they can’t seem to get – you can’t get on the same page with them, right? It doesn’t feel good. It’s stilted. I think of some super intelligent person with Asperger’s. They just can’t relate. They can’t read you, and, They just – they’re painful to work with, but they may be brilliant in what they do. I heard this referred to once as brains on a stick. We want their brain, but at the same time, we don’t want to talk to them.
On the flipside, though, is somebody who is too high on EQ, not IQ. It feels great. Oh, gosh, Greg, this was fun. This was great. I loved it, but then you walk away and you’re like, “, but I don’t think I got anything out of it,” right? It was a massage. It was an event. It was a fun event, but I’m not getting anything from it. What we’re after is a balance between those two.
When you’re talking to people to enlighten them, this is a way you are demonstrating your balance between these things because you are bringing them something for free, and you are giving them your intellect, right? You’re doing ideas that are based on their business, and I guess that’s the trick of the whole thing is when I say you need to bring ideas to prospects. I am saying bring your best ideas, and I’m saying make sure that they are ideas that their company could possibly implement. Some people say, “Well, hey, Greg, why would I want to give away my secrets?” Well, because at that level, those people are not – they’re not – if they think they can do it themselves, they’d be doing it themselves, but more than likely they’ve tried it and it’s just not worked, and they never really figured out why because that – but then that’s the other thing is they’re like, “Well, _____ – Greg, I do the same things that other people do” – excuse me – “why – I don’t know that bringing them these ideas is going to benefit them. How do I know if it benefits them,” and my point is is it doesn’t matter if it benefits them or not. This is where I say the intent counts more than the idea. One of my favorite sayings is intent counts more than technique. It doesn’t matter how you – what exactly you’re doing, but it matters a lot more how you’re doing it. If I give these talks and I really am not trying to help you, you can detect it right away, and you run away. The reason people listen to these is because they’re like, “Oh, Greg seems to be trying to help, and he’s trying to give me information that’s going to work,” and, The intent comes through loud and clear, right? It’s like you just know when somebody is trying to sell you something, and you know when somebody is trying to help you. That’s the same thing when you go shopping with ideas. You try to enlighten people with ideas. They will detect your intent much more than they will critique your ideas.
Let me give you an example. When I started consulting, the easiest is I wanted to do this broad helping people grow their businesses, but I needed revenue right away. The first thing I did was lead generation programs with ad words. My ideas generally were around their businesses and how to best use ad words, which is Google’s pay-per-click advertising to generate leads for complex business to business sales. I know I wanted to work in that area of business to business. I didn’t want to do much of the consumer stuff anymore, but to get there, I had to bring in my ideas. That’s what I did. I would go in and just tell them exactly what it is that they should do and how it would benefit their business, and from there the conversation always changed, right? This is where I learned that intent really does work because they would be like, “Oh, that’s interesting. We’ve tried this, or we do this, or we’re doing it that and that. What would you do about” – and then here comes the problem that they’re actually concerned about. Guess what I did? I went in to enlighten them – upper corner – and I ended up walking out with an idea of what it is that they really wanted. Sometimes it was relationship, very rarely at the beginning was it demonstrated value, but it was, “Greg, we’re talking about this. I like the ideas. Let me tell you about a thing that I’m working on and how is it that you would help me there,” and then it generates business. That’s idea number one. You trade in ideas – so bring ideas – get good at looking at businesses and thinking how – what is it that I can offer them that would be a good idea, and whether it’s immediately valuable to them or not doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re bringing them an idea. You’re trying to help their business. You’re giving them something. You’re giving them a piece of yourself. Work with them.
Tactic #2 – Know your path
This brings me to tactic number two. So, so far we’ve kind of described who it is that we should be talking to and where we should be spending our time, and then the first thing is bring them ideas. The second thing is you need to have a path to follow. It could be your path, but you need to spend some time thinking about where it is that you want to go. Conversations tend to wander, especially when we first get into them, right? It’s intimidating enough to get in front of somebody who we think could possibly – that if we provided enough value to, they could actually compensate us enough that we could achieve what we wanted to get done. That’s intimidating enough. When we get into those conversations, though, and they veer off in these different directions, it’s horrible. So, before you get there, you have to have a path to go. The saying is start anywhere, go everywhere. The only way you can do that is if you have a good idea as a map as far as where it is that you – what the things are that you want to get accomplished. To do that, right, you just need to do a little homework. We make lists. We make a lot of lists of this is what I hope to accomplish. Like this would be the perfect accomplishment. This would be okay. I could live with it. This would be horrible. I want to avoid it. Knowing that, how is it I’m going to structure this thing? Oh, it’s a lunch. It’s going to be a crowded restaurant. It’s going to be noisy. I need to be prepared for that. It’s somebody I know socially that I’ve just met or that I’m going to just talk about business for the first time. There’s going to be a lot of catching up socially that goes on. How is it that I’m going to transition this conversation?
My point is have a plan, and to do that, we use this – a simple tool – an agenda, and it’s actually – I love to have things written out, and those “this is what I hope to accomplish – this is what I hope to talk about” lists are powerful, but they’re most powerful in a physical representation where everybody can see it. Human beings have a need to complete lists. The reason we make lists is because we want to get things done. When a list is sitting there, and if the conversation is meandering for too long, and lunch is wrapping up, and we still haven’t gotten to elements of that – items on that list, they will get done. That’s the benefit of holding it. The disadvantage when you’re a – with a type A personality is they will grab the list and they will answer all the questions, and then you’ll be there. My point is is as long as you’re prepared, it’s like what’s going to happen if he grabs the list, we run through it really quick, and then the conversation is over inside of five minutes? Well, prepare for it. Make sure that you’re ready. So, start anywhere, go everywhere.
The key pieces to this is really not the agenda. The agenda has the advantage of giving us a place where we can refer back to so that we can at least make sure that our most important items – and I really don’t use much more than two or three as major agenda items. Usually, though, the way that this works in a conversation is I say, “Hey, Ken” – I’m going to use Ken as my fictional person – “Ken, I have a few things that I want to get accomplished during this meeting, and I’ve written them down here. I’m just going to put this here, and they are” – and I may even roll through them – “and they are, one, I’d like to hear about what you guys are working on. Two, I’d like to tell you about what we’re working on, and, three, I’d like to see how we’ll work together,” right? They don’t need to be earth-shattering or major, but it’s just like, “In a perfect world, if we can get these three things done over this coffee here at this busy Starbucks, I would consider this to be a successful day, but before we get started, right” – Here the first key – “before we get started, is there anything that you wanted to cover or talk about,” and the nice thing about this is an agenda kind of builds up a little bit of tension, like, oh, we’ve got a list. We’ve got a to-do. I’m ready to do this. “Before we get started” – those words diffuses all tension, and if anything is going to come out, it’s going to come out there, right? If I coach their kid in soccer, and the guy wants to yell at me because the kid is not getting enough playing time or the kid is getting too much playing time, and I’ve got to remind him it’s a recreational league and the goal is not to – well, I hate to say that the goal is not to win, but in many ways, the goal is to just make sure everybody is doing something and not hiding shaking on the sidelines. As we go through that, the “before we get started” let’s that happen, and then we roll it up, and then the wrap up is the other powerful part, which is, “Now that we’re done, is there anything – like did we leave anything behind? Is there something you need to get done, and what are the next steps?” So, “To wrap things up,” and, “Before we get started,” are verbal cues that let’s us move around and keeps up oriented as we’re trying to move through this initial conversation. That might move a little bit beyond the how to get into the initial conversation to what happens once we’ve gotten there, but it’s – I just found that this simple tool is – it’s changed enough conversations that you just get more done in less time, which is what I’m after anyways is how can we actually do less of the work and still get all the reward. That’s number two.
Tactic #3 – Learn transitions
We’re rolling here. This is tactic number three. Oh, tactic number three is you need to have language for your transition. As we talked about moving from one spot to the other and how is it we move from the people, the vast majority of junior partner people that I work with that are trying to develop new business, they have their own social network that usually holds the keys to their business, and they have a hard time transitioning into actual conversation about business. I don’t want to be Bob – Ken – Ken knows what I do. When he’s ready, he will talk to me about it. Well, as every life insurance person I’m sure you’ve ever met will tell you, that’s terrible. That’s just not the way people work, and especially with the enlightenment concept that we need to enlighten them as to what the future can be and what your services really are, you need a way to transition that conversation. We’re going from non-business to business, and the best part about it is this conversation – it’s a classic what has happened will happen, right? History repeats itself. When you have – you do this conversation once, you’re going to have it 100 times because every time you meet with somebody new, you’re going to want to eventually transition into a business conversation if they look like they’re an economic buyer and if they sound like they have the control pieces that you need and you want to find out if you have some of those shared values.
This is how we do it. You need to structure it in a way – this is the way that makes it feel good for them and it makes it feel good for you. Make sure it’s their choice, not your choice. Don’t – right? Nobody wants to be the manipulative, creepy guy who somehow persuades somebody – does hypnosis and somehow persuades somebody to take an appointment with them. Just make it their choice from the very beginning, and if they make – I put a Y in here – yes or no. Make yes and no equally valid. Like there’s no reason that they have to say yes, right? They’re humans, and we’re only here for a set amount of time walking on this rock hurling through space. Some of us will be here longer than others, but in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really matter. Make yes equivalent to no. If they say no, it’s no big deal, and you can even say that. I say that all the time. “Hey, yes or no, they’re equally equivalent. There’s no – yes is not a better answer than no. No is not a better answer than yes.” Make it their choice.
Suggest a different setting. There’s really no reason while you’re at a fundraiser talking by the bar and you guys are both getting – working on your first drink of the night that you need to have a business conversation. Transition it to a different setting like, “We’ll talk at a different time and is that okay,” and the way to do that is to talk – is to – they’ll want to know what the conversation is about, right? If you make it their choice, “Do you want to talk – yes or no,” and then say, “and we can do it at a different time – at a better time,” and they say, “Yeah.” What are we going to talk about, right? Well, we’re going to talk about their goals and your work, and, It’s really that simple. You just need a statement that does those things, and guess what? Guess what Greg has for you today? I actually have the statement that you can use. This is going to answer all four of these points, and I’ll walk you through how it does it.
So, Ken again. “Ken, would you be open to a separate conversation where we talk about your company’s goals, my firm’s work, and if there’s a way to work together,” right? That’s a yes or a no, right? “Ken, would you be open to a separate conversation” – so, “Would you be open” – it’s your choice – “to a separate conversation” – not here – I’m not asking for here – “where we’re going to talk about your company’s goals, my firm’s work, and if there’s a way to work together? That’s all I want to talk about.” Most business people are open to this conversation, but this is an easy one if you can just get this into your head. You’re going to have this conversation a hundred times. You meet somebody and you say, “God, that seems like somebody who I’d like to talk to more about this,” ask them, “Would you be open to a separate conversation?” If they say, “No, I don’t feel like that would be appropriate,” say, “That’s okay.” My question is usually then, “Is this like it’s never going to appropriate or that it’s just – that now is not a good time?” “Well, Greg, we already have people who help with that. We already – we’ve just done a big thing with another giant sales consulting agency. We just hired a new marketing person. We just hired a new chief of sales. This is just – it’s not a good time.” “Okay, again, is this like never or not now because either one is okay. It really doesn’t matter, but just let me know, and I won’t bug you again,” and I really won’t because there’s so many people who need your help. There’s so many people who need my help. I can’t possibly get to them all, and I don’t need to. I only need a few to get through and to meet my particular – to meet my low expectations – my low goals – take care of Wilson – Wilson, the dog, who is looking at me now. This is a nice way to do it. So, just this should be – just roll of your lips at all times, and it’s nice. They don’t mind it, you don’t mind it, and it’s a good way to get off the soccer pitch where you’re coaching somebody, and you’re talking to one of the parents and just like, “Hey, would you be open to a separate conversation – yes or no,” and, “What are we going to talk about?” “Well, I’d like to hear about what you guys are working on – your goals – and I’d like to tell you about what we do and then just want to see if there’s anything in between.” “Oh, I don’t think I’d be the right person to talk to.” “Oh, okay, well, we can talk about that at the time, but I’d be curious as to why you wouldn’t be” – “Oh, because I sell – you’re accounting. I’m not in accounting.” “I know, but you run the business. The idea is I have – the things that our firm does goes so far beyond traditional accounting, it’s almost consulting. It’s business consulting, but ultimately what it does is it adds to your bottom line. Again, I don’t really want to roll you through this conversation right now. Could I contact you? Could I give you a call? Can I send you an e-mail and we can set up a different time – a better time?”
So – and in case you’re wondering – so, “Greg, you say this works really well. How well does this work?” Well, I’ve got a lot of contacts, and I’ve got a lot of contacts who own businesses and who are people that I can help and work with, and I’d say I get 25 percent. It’s not like everybody is dying to meet with me. I do get a lot of no’s – like, “Oh, I don’t think I want to do that,” and I also get – most of them are not nows, which I’ve come to live with. Is the hit rate higher? It could be, but there’s a lot more people who are like, “Hey, yeah, let’s meet and let’s talk. I do have a question, a project, an idea. I need to know what you do. I don’t know what you do,” right? That’s that whole – those first two slides I gave you. Like, “I don’t know what you do. You haven’t demonstrated any value, and I don’t know anything about what you sell. Can you enlighten me?” That’s it.
Number three – have a language. Know your language. We rely on – sorry, look at my notes here. We rely on language to communicate. Make sure your language is as tight as can be.
Tactic #4 – Work the Grid
All right. Let’s jump into the last part is I just want to roll through this grid really quick one more time. What do you say when you’re a one? What do you say when you’re a two? When the person is a three? When the prospect is a four? We’ve found somebody we want to talk to, and we need to – the first thing we want to do is orient ourselves on this. I’m at dinner with a – I get invited to be at a table. At that table, I’m sitting next to the spouse of the CEO of a company, and, I had no idea. This happens, right, and, I’m talking to the spouse, and she’s being really coy about who she is and what she does, but I’m just trying to make friendly conversation, and then it comes time like, “Oh, my husband works there,” and I’m like, “Oh, what is it you do there,” and then he kind of demures around. I’m like, “What? Do you like run the place?” “Yeah, I do,” and I’m like, “Oh, that’s funny. This is the work that I do. Would you be open to a separate conversation?” “Yeah, maybe, why don’t you go ahead and send me a note.” Well, it ended up being a no, but we still work with that, but now he’s in my list, and I want to re-approach him again because I do think there is something that I can do for him, but he is really – He’s no longer a stranger over here, right? He’s crept over to here where we at least have a teeny bit of name recognition, but that’s about it, but on this demonstrated value client, he’s definitely down here.
He is a one. What is my objective with somebody who is in a one, and this is it. I just need to improve on one of these axes, right? I either need to find a way to get to know him better, which I’m going to say is less likely than for me to move my way up the grid on demonstrating value – showing how I can demonstrate value – until I can get a chance to sit and talk with him because ultimately what I need is I need for him to tell me what it is that they’re working on so that I can give him some ideas that work. That’s what I’ll do is I’ll just keep sending him ideas because he is in number one, and I want to keep trying to enlighten him, and that’s the reason for us maybe spending some time together. That’s an example there.
What about number two? Here, right, is somebody I know well. Let’s say – I should’ve thought – sorry about this. On this one, I actually – I just wrote it down. I’m like this is what you should do, but an example for me would be somebody that I used to sell to – let me try to think of something that’s more personal. A more personal story would be somebody I go to church with, right? They’re part of my general school-church community, and I want to – I know them well enough that we socialize on a regular basis, but we’ve never done business together, and they are in a position – I’ve just never brought it up, and we never talk about it. We just have a good time together talking about, I don’t know, sports – talking about sports stuff, and I want to change that because I do think that I’d be able to do some things that their firm might benefit from if I knew what their goals were, but I don’t know what their goals are. I’m kind of taking a guess. How is it that I can do that?
One of the ways to move up on this demonstrated value is – this is where usually I would involve your marketing – usually have a few marketing people, but I’m looking for case studies. I’m looking for evidence that we’ve done – testimonials – having just stories of – it doesn’t even need to be similar businesses, just something where you’ve taken somebody from point A to point B. I say bring marketing in because marketing is usually pretty good at these case studies where I’ve moved somebody from – they’re down here on point A – I’m trying to get this circle exactly correct. They’re here on point A. I want to move them up to point – or we did move them to point B, and what transpired in between is where we made the difference, and, In making that difference, what is it that we uniquely brought to the table, right? What is it that we did that only we could have done? That’s the secret of case studies is it needs to include your magic sauce. It can’t be just, oh, we decreased the cost of sales while increasing the number of opportunities, and it won. “Well, what exactly do you do that’s unique,” and they’re like, “What was your insight? Like how did you know that that was the right thing?” That’s what people are after. That’s kind of that enlighten me – that’s where that plays. If I’m moving somebody here, I really am trying to move them up into this grid, whereas the example that I gave you here, I decided that I was going to move him up this particular way, but you could move all ways, right? I could’ve move him this way, or I could just kind of keep up and try to do both.
Here’s one that is most common with my junior associates that I get working with. The people know your firm. They don’t know you, and especially at the economic fire level that you’re trying to get some more work from. This isn’t maybe the people that you work with every day, but it’s the people who make the decisions on whether or not to hire you for future work, or that they’re working on something like an acquisition or something else that would really be beneficial to your firm, but how is it that you get in there? If we’re trying to increase our ability to work along the relationship side of things, I still say using ideas is the easiest way to get there, and especially if you can give ideas that make them better.
One of the things McKinsey was always really good at, and I don’t know if they still do this, but this is from an old book, The McKinsey Way – Super Secrets Inside of McKinsey, and what they used to do is they used to produce these very powerful reports, and then they would give them to senior executives and say, “Just take the idea. You don’t even need to attribute it to us. Take the idea. Run with it. Look like a genius. Bring this up when” – and the executives would, and who would they think of every time that they were ready to do more or to work with another strategy consultant? They would bring McKinsey in. Same tactics. If you’re trying to become somebody’s confidant, do things for them that make them look – for some people, this is very natural. For others of you, you’re going to have to really think about it, and if it’s that hard, commiserate. Find somebody else to help you along these lines, which is the other thing is that – bring in other people that they already know and trust. Borrow some of their influence to work yourself along that relationship quadrant so that you can get into the – spot four.
One of the challenges, though, when you’re inside the spot four is way up here as we had talked about early on in slide two is that – think of – this is almost like – you know what this is? This is your family. Your family knows you so well and trusts you implicitly, right, and then they know exactly what you do, so they think, and, They’ve got you pigeon-hold in here. The thing is I’ll draw a double box because you are – you can’t break out of there. There’s no new ideas that are coming from you. They’re not strangers, and you’re not new to them, but guess what? Greg always – never cleaned up after himself. Guess what? Greg is still kind of messy at home, according to my mother. Is that true? Well, no, it’s not true anymore, but at the same time, it’s true to them. How do you break out of that and, again, you need to – it’s the bringing of ideas. At some point, you need to show them that you can do more, and that’s just through demonstrating, and half the time it’s through communicating. I find that most people – most partners and others and firms that are pigeon-holed into doing one kind of work, and they want to break out of the other kind of work, it’s simply because they haven’t really talked that much about it. That’s what we need to do is we need to make sure that we are not trying to sell as much as we are trying to enlighten.
That’s really the theme of the whole talk. That’s it. We ran through those – the three big ideas and the four tactics, and hopefully that should help you at least make the initial conversation not seem so intimidating, right? You don’t have to pitch to everybody. One approach doesn’t fit all. Take some time and think about how do you want to approach people, and then use your strengths to get there. It’s the easiest way to do it because it takes the least amount of effort for you and it feels natural, but, yeah, don’t get stuck trying to influence somebody else’s approach, and when you do talk to these people, bring ideas, have a path to follow – give yourself a path so that you can work around and have a nice conversation with them, but be prepared for things. It’s not that hard to know when you walk into somebody’s office to imagine what an office looks like, and what’s – there’s going to be things on the wall and they’re important to them. There’s going to be things for you to comment on, right? There’s all these things that you know that are going to happen in there. Be prepared before you go in there. Am I going to sit at a little table off to the side? Are they going to bring me into the desk where I’m going to have to sit across the desk from them? How is this conversation going to go, and can I mentally prepare myself before I get there? Have that done.
Have language for transitions. Know what it is that you’re going to say and why it is that it works. In this case, we want to make sure it’s always their choice as to whether or not you meet, and the value is going to come from – they’re going to talk about themselves, you’re going to talk about yourself, and then together you’re going to kind of decide should we continue this conversation or what after that, and then – yeah, and then we talked a little bit about the customization of one approach does not fit all. We really rolled through those quickly.
Again, this is a little bit longer than – we would’ve done exercises, and then we would’ve critiqued those, and that’s what happens inside of an actual workshop and – which is why it happens longer, but at the very least, you should be able to – right – we talked about how to ID the right prospect, how to recognize what a true economic buyer is that can prioritize budget, and they talk about big goals and big ideas. You gain permission to talk to these people by balancing your IQ and your EQ, right – your ideas with your ability to communicate those ideas, and do it in a way that respects their intelligence. I talked about trading in ideas. Basically, use your – start exercising your idea muscle. As you drive around, take a look, and just – you should always be thinking about how is it that we would – what is it that these guys are possibly trying to do and how is it that we would bring value to that, and then customize your process. Make it work for you. The big thing is take that VIA test of character strengths. If you haven’t done it, I recommend you do it.
As always, if you want to go deeper into these or hear more business specific examples that are just related to your business, we can do that. I can do that for you. Just feel free to reach out. E-mail Greg@ChambersPivot.com or send – or give me a call – 402-709-9962. I don’t always pick up, but if you leave a message, I always get back within 90 minutes for the people who are not clients and 60 minutes for clients.
That’s it. Thanks for listening, and I hope this was helpful, and, yeah, if you give me – let me know if this format works for you or if watching me for an hour is just too much, but if the process visuals, which are on this side – if the process visuals helped or didn’t help, let me know, all right? Thanks a lot. Good selling.
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