The average person thinks about 600 words per minute (wpm), but can only speak about 125 wpm. This means that while you are talking to your prospect at 125 wpm, they are thinking over four times as fast, so in fact you cannot reasonably expect to be holding their full attention. Do not take this personally – think back to the last time you took some lecture-based training and you will understand!
This is why you should try to involve your prospect through every stage of your sales visit, even when you are giving a presentation. One of the best ways to involve a prospect is to ask good questions.
Here are some questions you could ask:
- How do you define quality in your relationship with an accounting firm?
Listen carefully to the prospect’s answer. While the vast majority of prospects will say something along the lines of ‘I want you to understand my business’ or ‘I want an accountant who will help me get what I want for my company’, some will define quality in other ways. It is important that you have clear understanding of your prospective client’s definition of a quality service.
- What do you like most about your existing accountants?
If the prospect answers by giving his or her existing accounting firm extravagant praise, they may just be using you to get a better deal on their fees. However, if they tell you about things they are unhappy with, you can begin to pursue the topic until you discover their unmet needs.
- How do you think I might be able to help you?
Pay attention to their answer here, because they are about to tell you what benefits they expect from their relationship with you. You should then re-orientate your sales presentation towards proving that you can meet those expectations.
- What are your goals and priorities for the next three years?
Can you help the prospect achieve these goals? If you can, focus your sales presentation on proving that.
- Who, besides yourself, might influence a decision to engage new accountants?
Would their bank have any input? Their other directors/partners? Their family? Sometimes, the managing director is asked to conduct the preliminary interviews with candidate accounting firms, but it is the other shareholders who make the final decision. To succeed, you must be known to the key decision maker, and to as many decision influencers as possible
Another way of keeping your prospect involved in your sales presentation is showing them a list of your references, and asking them if they know anyone on it. You will also stack the odds in your favour if your prospect accepts an invitation to look around your offices, as games are often won by the home team.