Pitching prospects is the most critical skill for business success as without any clients, you have no revenue, and your business will founder. However, it is very difficult to find an easy-to-follow process for undertaking this essential task so I have encapsulated my procedure honed over more than 10 years of running a successful organization.
My first and most critical step involves taking the prospect to lunch. This should be the very first meeting you have with the prospect as initial impressions are critical, and they are more likely to be favorable when you are sitting down to a meal. Moreover, if a prospect does not have time to have lunch with you, then he is probably considering many other applicants for the position, and your chances are greatly reduced anyway. In other words, the “lunch test” pre-qualifies your prospect as a good chance of getting the account.
At lunch, you should follow a number of other procedures. Don’t start talking business until after you have ordered, and use that initial period to get to know the prospect as a person. What you may consider “small chat” is in actuality an essential element to help the prospect see you are a nice guy and make him want to give you the account. And if a prospect wants you, he will find the “professional reasons” to justify his initial inclination.
Two final lunch items: if you have a handout, wait until the end of the meeting to provide it to your prospect as you don’t want him to be distracted from your pitch. And, always, always, pick up the check. There’s no sweeter words to end a lunch meeting than “it’s on me.” More on post-lunch procedure later this week.