Ninety nine percent of success is being prepared.
I was reminded of that fact recently when I was in a client meeting about a survey and the client suddenly switched gears wanting to know what else we could do for them. Fortunately, I was able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat and talk about other initiatives. The result was that the client decided to retain us to do additional work.
The fact is that our working, as well as our personal life, is paved with opportunities. But unless we’re prepared to recognize and jump on those opportunities they’re as good as gone. A wise sales manager I know named George likes to tell a story about a sales call he was on with one of his salesmen when a customer asked to see some clothing samples. The salesman didn’t have the samples with him and told George after the meeting that he’d return in a few days with them. Only problem was that by the time he came back he was too late. A competitor beat him out of the sale.
As George puts it, “Never leave home without your tools.” Just as a carpenter doesn’t go anywhere out without his hammer, personal branders never attend a meeting without their game plan.
It’s not enough that we have certain skills that we pride ourselves on. Our attributes and our past actions mean nothing in the fact of an opportunity that’s staring us in the face and we don’t pounce. Bottom line is that we also need to be strategists. Before we do anything, we need to put ourselves in the client or prospect’s shoes. What are they likely to be stewing about? What problems are they confronting? How can we help?
The next time you attend a meeting bring your game plan: Here are a few tips to help make you a better player:
• Think ahead. What is your client likely to ask you? What will he or she want to know?
• Bring alternatives. Don’t be a “One Note Charlie.” Instead, think about a number of ways to help your client or prospect and be prepared to present another scenario if one gets shot down…or two…or three gets shot down.
• Be flexible. If your client or prospect isn’t responsive, don’t keep repeating the same failing message. Be bold and try something different.
Wendy Marx • Public Relations/Marketing Communications • President, Marx Communications, Inc. • firstname.lastname@example.org