I believe it was Dale Carnegie who once said; “Arouse an interest in another person before you present your idea…”
I’ve expounded on this for years…the sale is made in the listening, not in the presentation.
But listening without perspective is a lost opportunity to connect. Doing some quick research about your key client contact, the company, and news of the industry provides you with context for your listening. The better and more relationally you listen, the easier it is to make the match to your product/service in a genuine manner.
Here’s an example from last week…
Do the Research
I’m coaching an investment executive on his fundraising efforts. At the start of our meeting, I asked him with whom he was meeting. His response was, “Oh, my team puts a list together and I look at it right before the event.”
You can imagine my initial reaction to this. But, remaining forebearant, I further asked, “Do you know what firms they represent? Did you look at his LinkedIn profile? Did you search any recent news about the company?”
Sheepishly he started to get the message and said, “I guess I should know some of this beforehand.” I asked him for the meeting attendee list, and put in the name of an executive he was scheduled to meet in LinkedIn. Up comes the university he attended: McGill University in Montreal. Turns out, one of his own team members also went to McGill. I asked if he thought that might be some good intel that could open up a conversation? He agreed that it was. And that was just a first-pass, tip-of-the-iceberg type revelation from the research.
The More You Know, the More You’ll Hear
Here’s the point, the more you know about your prospective client, the more you can listen to him/her and understand their respective “professional path.” The more you understand this, the more you can break the ice of initiating a relationship in a curious, genuine fashion and shape your recommendation to what their objectives are today.