There is so much information readily available at our fingertips that we can take advantage of when prospecting and preparing for meetings. As salespeople, we need to know what resources are available, learn how to use them to our advantage, and give ourselves the opportunity to start a first meeting steps ahead.
Some companies are prolific in sharing information about themselves, and others are much more quiet. Whatever they put out there for you to find, before a first meeting, you should have a good idea of what that information is. These companies have taken the time to write it and publish it, and we need to read it, learn from it, and use it to craft our opening questions.
Imagine you're meeting with a prospect for the first time
You show up to their office (OG style), or log into your Zoom meeting. What will be the first points of conversation? Likely introductions, weather, or something pretty benign to get a comfortable footing. When you're ready to dive in, how do you get started? Here are two options.
You open the conversation with something like, "So tell me about your business," or "So tell me about your benefits program."
You open the conversation with something like, "As a service business, I understand you've been hit really hard with hiring, but it looks like you're starting to see a bit of success with your job openings. Congratulations. What kinds of things are you seeing with the pool of candidates that are responding and a good fit for you?"
In scenario #1, you're asking the prospect to tell you information that can be easily found on the company website, in job postings, news releases, and articles in local publications. By asking questions like this, you're taking valuable meeting time to have the prospect tell you information that you could and should have learned prior to arriving for the meeting. By the time the prospect has educated you with enough background information to start digging into the good stuff, it's probably nearing the end of the meeting time.
In scenario #2, you've demonstrated to the prospect that you are not only current with economic happenings, but you also understand the business they're in, you've researched the company, and know about their recent hiring activity.
Instead of just talking nuts and bolts about the benefits program or the business, you are immediately breaking the ice by getting your new prospective client to talk about their business at a more in-depth level by sharing observations, reflections, and considerations.
This opening question may seem like it's simply a conversation starter, but when you listen and engage in the conversation it stimulates, you will learn from the answers. What you hear should be the jumping off point for your subsequent questions and the areas of opportunity for you to explore together.
Sure, scenario #1 is certainly easier prior to the meeting because you don't have to do any prep work. But it makes you work much harder during the meeting, and it becomes a challenge to justify a second meeting. It's is also a disrespectful way to spend the valuable hour of time you've asked the prospect to give you.
Scenario #2 requires a time investment prior to the meeting researching and preparing, but the meeting is so much easier and significantly more productive, leading to a much easier natural conclusion of a second meeting. The types of questions you're asking in a meeting like this are not "just" using an hour of their time, but giving them a valuable opportunity to analyze their business with your guidance and outside perspective.
Here are a few ideas for researching prospects:
- Read company website – Always job #1. Read everything from company descriptions to products and services to team members, community activities, and news releases.
- Google the company – This is where you find the articles from local or industry publications, awards, new releases, and job postings (if they don't publish these items on their own site).
- Look them up on LinkedIn – Find their company profile and see what information they post, and review who works there currently. Visit individual profiles and see what they are are posting and how they're engaging.
Find out if you're on the right path to growth and gain new prospects by using our ebook "Five Surefire Ways to Grow Your Benefits Business" in your planning and researching process.
Content provided by Q4intelligence
Photo by juyochi