Do you listen? Really, do you work at it? A fellow I partnered with for a time about five years ago asked me why customers usually bought from me at the first meeting. He simply didn’t understand this: I listened.
Listening pays big dividends. What I did, basically, was listen to what his customers — the folks he brought in for our partnership effort — wanted to accomplish. Then I set about figuring out the best way to do what the customer wanted. Sometimes I would suggest two or three ways (never more than three) and then lean back and listen to the prospective customer’s thoughts.
Sometimes it took two visits — my temporary partner gave me more credit than I deserved re the “first time” question — but I’ll agree that more than half the time we were able to get the ball rolling on the first visit. No, I was never in a hurry and often would say several times that there was no rush; even so, people usually wanted to take action. Why? Because I listened, that’s 90% of the reason. Another thing: I hardly ever leave the office and so all the appointments were in my environment. People do not expect professionals to leave the office, and are apt to think that folks who do leave the office are non-professionals. (I do visit customers in other locations, but they visit me, too.) Finally, I never use illustrations, quotes or other pre-prepared stuff. I hate watching people as their eyes glaze over with brain pain. Most of that stuff is really mind-numbing. I sometimes use a whiteboard and a Sharpie.
Have a wonderful short week (I hope you, like me, get four days off in a row) and to you and your family, a very Happy Thanksgiving!
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