THE CLIENT WISDOM BLOG PUBLISHED BY MBT MORE BUSINESS TODAY LLC
Scenario: You are having lunch with a prospect. You met two years ago at a trade conference and continued to stay in touch. You understand their job responsibilities, and you think they understand how your services help businesses. When the check comes, you offer to pay and your acquaintance says, “Thank you so much. I would really love to work with you. Our business is changing.”
- Some will see this as a green light and dive in to continue the conversation.
- Some may be distracted by paying the bill and thinking of their next meeting. They may miss the opportunity completely.
- Some may be pressed for time and will suggest to talk again in a few weeks.
- Some will believe the prospect is just being nice and is not serious about working together.
The scenario is very real and something my clients discuss with me regularly. How do you know if the opportunity is real? Each situation is as different as the person seated across from you at lunch. The most important realization made by my clients is to respond swiftly. The only way to know, is to ask.
Why would someone not ask? Often our mindset gets in the way. As noted in the last example above, some people close their minds to opportunity. It is a self-defeating habit. Others allow distractions to block them from the opportunity. Their heads are so full with everything that needs to be done next, they are not fully present during the lunch or any part of life. Finally, some are too concerned about what to say next to really listen to the other person.
Here are some ways to respond:
- Before the lunch, set your focus. Breathe or meditate for a minute in the car or while you are walking to the lunch meeting. Remind yourself to listen, listen, listen.
- During the lunch, make sure you create space for your contact to speak. Ask open-ended questions, and wait for the answers. If you feel like you are talking too much, you probably are.
- When the phrase, “I would really love to work with you,” is said, follow up quickly and appropriately.
- First, acknowledge what they said. “Thank you. I really want to work with you too.”
- If you are out of time and have a meeting to attend, ask to speak on the phone later that day or the next. “I have another meeting in a few minutes, and I want to hear how your business is changing. Can we talk later today or tomorrow?” Then take out your calendar and book the time.
- If you have more time acknowledge the statement, then ask if your prospect has more time. “I would love to hear more about how your business is changing and how I can help you. Can you stay awhile and talk about it?
- If you missed the line during the lunch meeting and remembered it after you got back to the office, follow up right away. Call or email them. “I apologize for running out so quickly, I really want to work with you, too. Let’s schedule some time to talk about how your business is changing. Do you have time tomorrow?”
Leaving an opportunity hanging out there for too long may cause it to evaporate completely. How long is too long? It depends on the person who wants to work with you. Ask them.
Contact Mary Balistreri at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about coaching and professional development services.