Have you ever been put on the spot by a client in a new business meeting?

I have and I’ve learned the hard way, there isn’t really textbook rules on what to expect when you pitch a client for new business. Each meeting and client is different and most likely your going to get curveball questions in each new meeting. In the next 5 points, I’m going to share with you exactly what I pay attention to before going into any new business pitch.

1. Know your product.

You may be thinking “Well that’s obvious”. Do you really know your product & business? So you truly know the ins and outs? Not only sales and marketing collateral knowledge, but the technical side too. All too often you will be in a meeting with more than 1 person. I guarantee you, the likelihood of one of them being in a position where they head up a portion if not all the company’s technology, will be high.

If you are really stumped by the complexity of the line of questions, for heaven’s sake don’t fake it till you make it. Be honest and Be direct. “That’s a question for one of our more senior technical guys to answer, but what is your concern over (insert technical question here)”

This shows that you are not able to answer their question but you are still trying to find out more, in an attempt to ensure the information, you give to your team is true and correct. There’s nothing more embarrassing than bringing a technical resource into the conversation at a later stage and you’ve misinformed your team. Wasting the clients time and most likely put your resource in and “red-faced” position.

2. Know your Client.

Yet another glaringly obvious point you say? All too often a deal is killed early by not knowing your potential client. Do some research beforehand. LinkedIn, Blog entries, company news, Google the company name and I assure you the results will astound you. Make sure you know the names of everyone in that meeting.

The cliched saying “Cold calling is dead” well it is. It’s been dead for a while, why? I’ll tell you why – It’s a top 10 irritation trigger when a cold call comes through, the person on the other side has no idea who or what you are. You’re just a name on a screen, with no personal touch. Without the personal touch, there is no person to do business with.

Ask the right questions before thinking about the sale. Take a genuine look at the client’s current issues, needs or challenges. Discuss how it is affecting their day to day or annual strategic goals. This gives you more ammunition when presenting a solution to overcome objections and questions.

2. Know your Client.

Yet another glaringly obvious point you say? All too often a deal is killed early by not knowing your potential client. Do some research beforehand. LinkedIn, Blog entries, company news, Google the company name and I assure you the results will astound you. Make sure you know the names of everyone in that meeting.

The cliched saying “Cold calling is dead” well it is. It’s been dead for a while, why? I’ll tell you why – It’s a top 10 irritation trigger when a cold call comes through, the person on the other side has no idea who or what you are. You’re just a name on a screen, with no personal touch. Without the personal touch, there is no person to do business with.

Ask the right questions before thinking about the sale. Take a genuine look at the client’s current issues, needs or challenges. Discuss how it is affecting their day to day or annual strategic goals. This gives you more ammunition when presenting a solution to overcome objections and questions.

3. Know your market.

“So how do you compare to (insert unknown competitor here)?”

“I honestly have never heard of them” – This could be the worst answer you could give. Not only does it show a lack of industry knowledge, but could also make you look uninterested in your own product and its competitors.

If you’re selling decorative plates, you better know who the industry leaders are, specific events during those company’s histories and the knock on it had globally/locally. If you’re asked about “Sally’s Pretty Plates from Pensacola” you can be sure that it’s a one-woman company with no real impact on your product and the other industry leaders.

4. Know your capabilities.

Winging it, Blagging it, faking it till you make it, pretending, lying… these words might as well be in the same category when it comes to your abilities. You need to be careful with this. Sometimes winging it comes naturally and can be very effective when faced with a tough line of questions. often you can be wrapping up an hour-long meeting in 20 mins if your audience has caught you out while trying to wing it. This will result in losing the business and the client forever.

Be honest, set clear and defined boundaries of the product’s and your own capabilities.

4. Know your capabilities.

Winging it, Blagging it, faking it till you make it, pretending, lying… these words might as well be in the same category when it comes to your abilities. You need to be careful with this. Sometimes winging it comes naturally and can be very effective when faced with a tough line of questions. often you can be wrapping up an hour-long meeting in 20 mins if your audience has caught you out while trying to wing it. This will result in losing the business and the client forever.

Be honest, set clear and defined boundaries of the product’s and your own capabilities.

5. Know when to say no.

If your product can’t do what the client needs, the client is demanding a ridiculous discount or the client isn’t grasping what you are explaining. you have the right to say No. Be nice about it, don’t just blurt out “No…” and then not back it up with evidence. If you’re ever in the position where you need to say No, do it with tact and explain why. Perhaps mention that the request is on the cards but not available yet. (Take that idea back to your team as an improvement and you’ll be a hero with your product teams, but maybe not the developers who will ultimately need to do the work.)

Saying No doesn’t mean losing a sale, it means you understand the client and by backing it up with facts. It will show even more integrity as you have been able to be strong enough to push back. But again, use caution here. Don’t be negative, saying no can be a positive.

These are the business points I pay most attention to when I go into a meeting with a new client. They will work for you too, give it a try and let me know how it goes. If you have any other tips or point you would like to add, please drop a few lines in the comment section below. Also check out our awesome article to get you in the right mindset when starting a new Business “10 MINDSET CHANGES WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS FROM SCRATCH

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