Monday, March 24, 2008

Pay Attention; Look Ahead

All your prospect wants to know is, “What’s in it for me?”

His needs come before yours. If you can meet his requirements better than anyone else can, and he likes you, you both win.

You don’t have to have a bucket-load of customers to show that you understand the customer’s problem. In fact, the prospect may be more likely to think you care if your bucket is bone dry. You have to pay attention, listen, and do your homework before you say anything about how perfectly your service matches the prospect's needs.

It's possible, however, that your service doesn't match his needs. Let’s say your company develops a special type of X-ometer that will turn the X-ometer industry on its ear. You meet a prospect and develop a great rapport. You ask lots of good questions and begin to develop a true sense of the prospect’s challenges, which, come to find out, can't be fixed by even the best X-ometer. The prospect’s problem is Y. You don't know jack about Y.

You could still try to sell the prospect on the great advantages of X in hopes of prying a little revenue out of the deal. Or you could demonstrate your interest in helping him solve his problem, even if you’re not the one who can solve it.

That would mean no immediate sale for you, which is pretty painful in the early days of your business. But two things can happen:
1) You develop a reputation as a company that really knows how to listen and how to solve problems. Prospects like that. Some will become customers.
2) If you refer a prospect that needs Y to a company with expertise in Y problems, the Y people are more likely to return the favor.

Nobody can afford to wait around while prospects that might need something a year later develop fuzzy feelings for you. But you have to work on getting your next customer while you’re trying to get your first one.

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