Selling is what happens when you are face-to-face with the prospect. The point at which you sit down with a prospect to talk about a specific service opportunity is the most important stage in selling your services.
Up to this point, you have been marketing. You now have a selling opportunity, and what happens in this meeting will almost certainly determine whether you sign up the client now, later, or never.
For a prospect to change accountants, they must be at least somewhat dissatisfied with their current situation, and the purpose of the interview is to find, awaken, and stimulate that dissatisfaction in order to convince the prospect of the need to make a change, i.e. choose you to be their new accountant.
Your meeting should follow the stages below:
- Establish a rapport
- Probe for the prospect’s needs and wishes
- Present an initial value statement (which should correspond to their most dominant need)
- Offer proof statements through illustrations of value using real examples, hypothetical situations or analogies
- Obtain a commitment to your proposal (who will do what and when)
Before arranging your meeting, consider the following questions:
- How long will the meeting last?
- Who will attend for the prospect?
- Is this a meeting to prepare for a later, more formal presentation or proposal or is it likely to lead to a decision on the spot?
Smaller or owner-managed businesses are more likely to be informal, the interview frequently flowing right into the response and the close. Whoever your prospect is, prepare as well as you possibly can for their initial interview.
Try to match the number of people from the prospect’s organisation with an equivalent number from your firm. Try to avoid scheduling your interviews as a business lunch. Business lunches are more suited to clients you already have a good relationship with or clients with whom you are trying to develop a personal relationship before making an appointment for a sales interview.
Here are a few communication skills to keep in mind when interviewing the prospect:
- Always consider the prospect’s point of view.
- Make sure you have their attention.
- Make sure you understand each other properly. If you don’t understand something they say, ask them to clarify.
- Make your statements clear, logical, sequential and free of professional jargon.
- Get feedback from the prospect to see how you are doing.