Are you on equal footing with your prospects?

In business development situations, the professional on the selling side sometimes makes a big mistake: he or she unconsciously decides to stand on unequal footing with the prospect.

That is, he comes across as subservient, even desperate to please. They do this by excusing missed appointments, misleading information, and wavering by the prospect.

This is a mistake. Clients want professionals who stand on equal footing with them, who can be their trusted advisors. They buy from people they respect.

Here are some ways to stand on equal footing:

1. Have open conversations about budget. If the prospect won’t answer, be clear that you can’t help them until you know a bit more about whether they have money to commit to solving their problem.

2. Set a clear process and timeline for making a decision. If a prospect misses a deadline, suggest that they are not serious about moving forward.

3. If they provide misleading information, diplomatically call them on that fact, and tell them that you won’t work with them if they continue to mislead you.

4. If the prospect keeps asking for more information, reply by saying, “Suppose I get you that information. What happens next?” Give something only if it helps you get a “yes” or “no” answer in a timely fashion. For instance, I never give references without a signed contract. Why would I bother my most important clients unless I already had a signed contract? Once I have a signed contract, I’m happy to void it if I can’t provide the promised references (but by that time, the client doesn’t care anymore and drops the issue).

5. No matter how badly you think you need a client, act like a successful professional. People smell desperation and avoid it. We want to hire the busy, successful professional, not the desperate one.

So, do you stand on equal footing with your prospects?


3 Responses to “Are you on equal footing with your prospects?”

  1. Bling Sity Says:

    Keep up the good work!

  2. bookchiq Says:

    This is something I do better as time goes on. Back in the day, I lost projects by bidding too low. Now I turn away work (not a lot, but more and more each month). It’s kind of a catch-22, though, because it’s really difficult to believe you’re equal to the client until you’re successful… and you don’t become successful until you believe it.

  3. - Small Company Design - Helping small businesses succeed online. Says:

    […] if all of these points make sense but sound like too much effort, check out Andrew Neitlich’s Are you on equal footing with your prospects? He makes the excellent point that how you approach your prospects will impact not only the money […]

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