I knew the minute I met Shannon that we would work together at some point. There was a natural ease to the conversation. I was not nervous (which admittedly, I can get in an initial meeting) and was having fun! Similar to when I’m out to dinner with a great friend, I lost track of time. We bonded over visiting a remote part of the country most people haven’t heard of – and we had been multiple times.
When the meeting came to an end, it was easy confirming next steps. Shannon completed the tasks we had discussed, and the conversation moved forward in a natural way. I met with the company president, discussed the budget, and finally submitted the proposal.
This is where things slowed down. Money. Budget. ROI. Although the conversation continued to progress naturally, we were doing so at a much slower pace.
And yet, I knew Shannon and I were to partner to help her make a significant impact.
I wanted to work with Shannon. I loved our conversations. It didn’t feel like work. I had kept the following in mind throughout my conversations with her, especially when the pace slowed.
- Ask questions. You want to best understand his challenges, what he’s dealing with daily. Know the one thing he wants to remove from his desk. Know what he really wants to do – if he had all the knowledge, time, and money in the world. And yes, you can ask him that.
- Listen. Listen to understand, not to respond. If you find your mind wandering – thinking about something or someone else (time to reconsider whether this is truly your ideal client!) – refocus your attention on his words. Take a few deep breaths (yes it really does work!)
- Clarify. Repeat his words to insure you are understanding his true challenges. Most likely he will give you more information and a better understanding. AND you make him feel heard. A rarity in today’s workplace.
Who is your Shannon?
Think of a time you had a similar experience with a prospective client like Shannon. You wanted to work with her because you knew it would be a great relationship. Ask yourself:
- What’s under the surface? What is she not yet telling you?
- What does the client really want?
- How can you make her look good?
Once you know the answers to these questions, then you can start claiming!
Don’t jump the gun on this. You may have a great initial conversation, as I did with Shannon. Let your prospect lead the dance. Work on her timetable. We have all been on the end of an over-eager salesperson. Do not allow your metrics, or your deadlines, to drive this relationship.
When do you need to ignore the last few sentences? When there is an urgency to your clients’ situation which could cause harm, lost dollars or time if not addressed quickly.
What can you do? You don’t want to be creepy. What steps can you take? Follow these four recommendations, customizing them to make it natural and genuine to you.
Claim your ideal client
Keep him front of mind. Be on the lookout for information that is valuable to him: articles, conferences, events, etc.
Make introductions. When you’re meeting with colleagues, clients, referral partners, etc. consider who would be a valuable resource for your prospect.
Stay in front of her. Not in a nagging, or creepy way, but rather in a natural way. When she comes to mind, reach out.
Tell her! Explain why and how you can help, what you envision you can do together to make her life easier. CLAIM HER AS YOUR CLIENT.
What have you tried? What did you learn? What has proven most effective for you? Please share your experiences