When I started my own business, Orange Leaf Consulting, I was fortunate to have built a small clientele. But I knew I’d need more clients if I wanted to reach my goals. (You know I’m a fan of planning for your goals!). How do you get more clients? Find people who need your help! How? By uncovering their needs and how you can help fill those needs.
In a world full of instant gratification, I’m glad I learned early on that activity doesn’t always equal immediate outcome! Just because you drive all over the place meeting with clients, doesn’t mean you’re gaining business. Just because you’ve watched brain surgery on tv, doesn’t mean you’re a doctor! Everyone wants a magic wand to grow their business, to raise their kids, to meet the perfect person… the good news is, there is a way to grow personally and professionally with the right activity versus just any old activity!
I’ve been in sales for quite a while and developed a technique called the T.A.L.K. Model. Basically, it is an acronym for how to have a real, meaningful conversation with a prospect or client so that you can figure out how you can help them. Here’s how it goes:
We are constantly served advertising in a multitude of ways. And most of us don’t trust those ads, well, because it’s advertising! But don’t you tend to take a product more seriously if a friend, someone you trust, recommends it? Yes! So, when it’s time to start building your business, your team or your committee, start with trust. Build rapport with someone but take it one step further. Admit that this is going to be a deep business conversation and you are going to get pretty personal pretty fast. Let them know that what you talk about is going to stay between you. Don’t beat around the bush, state your objective right up front. People who offer transparency build trust faster. Secure the other person’s “buy-in” to your idea or goal. Find mutually beneficial solutions to make it a win-win.
Open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no) are great way to start building a relationship. Once you have a good dialogue going, find some common categories of need-things that other clients tend to need as well. Trust me, you will be surprised that there is a fairly finite list. And then ask questions around those categories. Maybe your clients all tend to have I.T. challenges, or staffing issues, or want to build their business. Pay attention to the trends and develop questions that you can ask to get them talking. And remember: They talk 80% of the time, and you listen; stay present and listen to their answers. And don’t be afraid to ask follow–up questions…the deeper you go, the more information you will uncover. Focus!
Link It All Together.
If a natural connection between what they need and what you have to offer hasn’t already been discovered, make that leap for them! Prioritize the needs that you have uncovered in this conversation and make sure they are on the same page with you. Next, start to link their needs to what you will have to offer them. Whether it be your products or services, this is your chance to show that you will have the answers. A word of advice: If you uncover that you cannot solve their needs, then try to link them to someone who can. Even though you may lose this particular sale, you will gain a raving fan for your honesty!
Keep the Conversation Going.
Finally, don’t just leave it hanging. Gain agreement on those needs you just prioritized and create some potential solutions together. Great buy-in happens when the other person discovers a solution with your help, instead of just being told what a solution is! Gain commitment to the next steps and decide when to meet next.
You’d be amazed at how easy building trust and creating partnerships can be when you take a moment to get to know someone with this simple tool! So, leave your notion of results behind and trust that the numbers will come. When you are busy with the right activities, the right outcomes naturally emerge!