You’ve done your research, you’ve preconditioned the meeting, you are about to jump on the call and the big question is how on earth do I structure my conversation so that the 20 or 30 minutes I have with the prospect are valuable. I want to introduce you to my acronym: FLOWS:
F: Find out all the issues.
L: List them all out and make sure they are complete.
O: Optimize – find out what’s most important to the client.
W: What’s the evidence and impact?
S: Summarize, did you get it right? Did you leave anything out?
So let’s walk through it step by step.
F: Find out all the issues, you want to understand the problems that the customer is trying to solve or the results that they are trying to generate. Remember, people make decisions when they encounter these two factors, either problem that they are solving or the results that they are generating.
L: List all of them out, make sure that the list of problems or results is complete. Ask them what else, my favorite type of question is the AWE Question that Michael Bungay Stanier talks about in his book The Coaching Habit. You want to ask – and what else.
O: Optimize – find out what issue is the most important to the client. Get them to tell you what’s crucial, what makes the difference and what has to be addressed as soon as possible.
W: What’s the evidence and impact, here you want to develop the evidence and impact. If the client is slowed down by technology within his firm what does that mean for them – what is the impact. IF their technology stack is clunky, what does that mean for the bottom line.
S: Summarize, you want to end the conversation ensuring that you understood all the issues and challenges and you didn’t leave anything out. You want to summarize what you have understood, paraphrase what the client has told you, use the same language to connect with them and then ask if you got that right? Did you miss anything?
Remember, you will be most successful when you concentrate first on the success of others, then on your own success.
Having a structure for your conversation is great, but what do you do when the prospect asks you specifics like what is the price, do you customize and very technical questions that perhaps you aren’t the right person to answer or aren’t equipped to answer at this stage. Yes, we, of course, want to answer all questions the prospect may have but rather than throwing a number up in the air, or getting into the nitty-gritty you want to first and foremost understand the reason why the prospect is asking.
In the next lesson, we will look at some Best Practices that involve moving away from your product or solution and bringing the focus right back to the prospect.