I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
What’s the best way to get in the door of a top prospect?
This question has to rank among the top five most commonly asked questions from business development professionals. It’s asked in a variety of ways including:
No matter how the question is asked, the answer is always the same: If you want to get in the door, you need to give the prospect a reason to open it.
The two most important things a business owner or professional has are time and money. When you ask for an appointment you are taking up both of those, so it better be worth it for them to meet with you.
4 Steps To Success
If you want to be successful at business development, if you want to not only get in the door, but also have a successful meeting and leave with a definite next step, then you must know and follow four strategies to get you in the door!
Walk a mile in their shoes– Steven Covey said it best: “Seek first to understand.” If you want to get in the door, then you must first understand why that door is closed and what it means to get it open. All too often as business development professionals we are only thinking about the sales calls from our point of view, why we need to get in the door and why we need this meeting? If you want to get the door open, then take the time to walk a mile in your prospects’ shoes, and get clear in your mind as to why it is worth it for them to give up both their time and money to meet with you. Shift your paradigm (and your body language and energy) to ensure they understand you, respect what they are giving up to meet with you, and you are clear in your mind their return on investment.
Give ’em a reason– Would you give up your precious time or resources to meet with someone you have never met from a company you know nothing about? I would guess no. You need to have built your reputation to proceed itself and, if possible, you need to find a meeting, a networking event, a connection, some way somewhere to meet and/or connect with your prospect before you ask for a meeting.
Make it sexy– If you want to not only get in the door but stay in the door, you need to be a value-add business development officer. Invest in their success before you even think about them investing in yours. You need to be more attractive, more enticing than all the other business development officers out there, and I am not talking about a losing 10 pounds or buying a new outfit. The only thing “sexy” to a business owner or CEO is how you can make their business more success and their life easier. You need to be ready to do that earlier and more often, and beyond the scope of them just investing in your products and services.
Stay in the game– Sometimes CEOs really are too busy to meet with you. If you want the doors to open, and if you want to land the business, you need to understand sometimes that it takes time. Patience is a virtue. Your job is to stay in the game, continue to find ways to connect and add value; before you know it, that door will open and the meeting will happen.
Meridith Elliott Powell, author of “Winning in the Trust and Value Economy” (2013) is an internationally certified coach, speaker and business development expert. She is founder and owner of MotionFirst, where she helps executives and business owners build cultures that make sales fun, easy and incredibly productive.