I am sure you’ll agree that both in our personal and in our business relationships we need to know that we’re being understood and our concerns are being taken seriously. I’m always pleased when someone who is looking to do business with me seems genuinely curious about the kind of work I do at The Language Lab. It’s even more encouraging when it’s clear that the person has taken a bit of time to understand what our business is about. Unfortunately, not every service provider “gets it!”
Recently, I had a pretty rough ride with a businessman who just didn’t“get it.” This businessman runs a search engine optimization (SEO) company. Because SEO is crucial to online business success, I was curious about his service offering. We introduced ourselves (virtually) and we agreed that we should get to know each other. But, instead of his taking the logical next step of setting up a time to chat, he immediately sent me a proposal about improving my SEO. Yes, this showed initiative. But, it also bypassed the required get to know you and learn about your needs discussion necessary for creating a meaningful proposal, i.e. having an idea about how I view my company and its needs.
Things Went From Bad To Worse
Nevertheless, I did agree to a phone meeting to discuss the proposal (mostly because it seemed rude not to!). However, things went from bad to worse. As soon as I answered the phone, he launched into a monologue about the benefits and “value add “of his proposal. The problem was he failed to show that he had any knowledge of what my business is actually about.
When I finally managed to get a word in edgewise, I asked how he could possibly provide me with a meaningful proposal when he hadn’t even taken the time to find out more about what we do at The Language Lab. That said, he agreed to go back to the drawing board and tailor a second draft to fit my business needs. A date was set for a second meeting. A week passed without any communication from him. Finally, the night before our early morning meeting, his proposal appeared in my inbox.
At this point, I was losing whatever faith I still had in him. To my surprise, the meeting went more smoothly than expected, largely due to his tech person. His presentation actually addressed more of things I wanted to know. But, all that came out of meeting number two was another proposal, one that did not consider much of what I’d expressed during the meeting. In fact, it contained ideas for my business I hadn’t expressed any interest in developing.
As you can imagine, he completely turned me off wanting him as a potential provider. Not only did he waste my time, what he presented was irrelevant and unnecessary. After all, there are two fundamental and not very complicated steps he could have taken. And they might have led to us doing business together. So if you want to avoid turning off a new prospect, consider the following:
Two Fundamental Steps To Consider
1. A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way
If you take the time to do research to inform yourself about your potential prospect’s business, and you ask thoughtful questions, you have a much greater chance of doing business together. (To put it in terms of a personal relationship — how many dates would you go on if the other person never asked you about yourself? Not too many, I hope.)
2. Human Connections Matter
You can’t successfully draw someone out and get the information you want unless you make a human connection first. If you take the time to really talk with someone, you have a much better chance of establishing rapport. And, if you establish rapport, you have a basis of trust and courtesy that is fundamental to any meaningful business relationship.
Of course, there are plenty of strategies beyond the above two fundamentals you may want to consider. For instance, there’s Jeff Hoffman’s Four Tricks That Will Magically Get Prospects Interested In You, or Bob Croston’s 7 Keys to Turning Cold Prospects Into Clients. But before exploring these kinds of strategies, you really need to have a fundamental understanding of what your prospective client’s business is all about. And there’s nothing magical about that!
Do you need help with your business communications strategies? Contact me at The Language Lab.