The first ten – fifteen minutes of conversation with a prospect can be the most difficult because you’re talking to a stranger. If you’ve done your homework, you already know what content you’re going to use to get your prospect’s attention and interest in those first few minutes. But, what comes next?

The quality of your meeting moving forward does not come from your sales pitch or your ability to regurgitate a solution to a problem you’re assuming the prospect has.  The outcome of the meeting from that moment forward is dictated by the quality of your questions.  The prospect isn’t going to simply sit with you and tell you about all the challenges they face.  You must be prepared to lead the conversation with questions that, when answered, will provide insight into what your next question should be and will uncover the pain points you can solve. Write your questions down in advance, make sure they start with a bigger picture view, then get down to the details.

Start by asking questions about the prospect company’s current state.  Take the time to learn about how they’ve succeeded and understand what their biggest challenges have been.  Do not offer a solution after each question. Be patient, your time to consult will come.  Purposely move from their current state to their desired state. Understand what enhancements they need to meet their future goals.  One of the most critical but overlooked topics to cover is who is driving the change within the company.  Changes driven by CFO’s are typically about the bottom line while decisions made by a COO are driven by efficiencies. Make sure you understand what kind of time frame the prospect wants to implement change. With all this rich information in mind, you can mold your sales efforts to appeal to the prospect’s specific needs and goals.

Watch our Top Ten Best Practices video on the Art of Discovery to maximize what you get out of each meeting.