How to spend your first 15 minutes with a prospect

Every business development person has been there. You’ve finally earned a few minutes to impress a prospect that you’ve been pursuing. This is your opportunity to shine. What do you say?

November 17, 2013 |
Steven Burns

Every business development person has been there. You’ve finally earned a few minutes to impress a prospect that you’ve been pursuing. This is your opportunity to shine. What do you say?

First, it’s helpful to remind yourself that you are not attempting to close a deal at this stage. Rather, your goal is to build a relationship that will eventually lead to a project opportunity.

Here are five tips to make the most of your interaction.

1. Listen, learn and don’t you dare sell—First, engage in small talk and set the tone that you’re a friendly, real human being, not someone purely out to make a sale. Make a point to learn some things you didn’t know about the prospect. 

2. Ask more questions, then lead—When the conversation shifts to a possible business relationship, start honing in on their priorities and pain points by asking questions. Confirm information you previously gathered about the prospect and try to fill in any gaps. Ask leading questions to find out key details that could affect their decision – prejudices, problems, desires or conflicts. 

3. Identify their buying motive—While there may be several factors contributing to a potential interest in your firm’s services, there is usually one overriding motive. Learn what it is so you can identify how to effectively position your firm most favorably.

4. Ascertain their level of urgency—Is there a specific project on the horizon or is the prospect just becoming more familiar with your firm as a potential long-term resource?

5. Know your audience—Find out whether you’re with a decision-maker. If you’re not, you can relax a little, but don’t treat this person as unimportant! They’re actually an incredibly valuable liaison between you and the decision-maker. Focus on being accommodating, relaxed and friendly during your time together. Then follow up afterward with easily shareable materials that help distinguish your firm.

Adapted from the BQE blog. 

Editor's Note: This is sponsored content. All text and images were supplied by the sponsor company. 

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After creating ArchiOffice®, the intelligent office, project management and time tracking solution for architectural firms, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development.

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