meeting face to face with potential clients should be well briefed, friendly and persuasive. They should have the right answers for expected questions and know how to put the potential client at ease.
Make sure your handouts and presentation materials also support your image of quality. They should be well organized, error-free and consistent with your message. “Generally, as with job interviews, the buyer knows whether she’s interested in doing business with you within the first two or three minutes of meeting you,” cautions Stouffer. Image, personality and credibility count.
6. KNOW THE CUSTOMER’S INDUSTRY AND BUSINESS.
The more you know, the more comfortable the decision-maker will be with you, so do your research before you go in. Be able to use the company’s jargon and industry terms with ease. Understand how the organization is set up and what types of problems it’s likely to have. “A really big turnoff is when the vendor displays complete ignorance about my company,” says Stouffer, “and uses my time as a fishing trip.”
Generally, the next step after the initial presentation (if you’ve succeeded in impressing the people who can say yes) is putting together a proposal. Ask enough detailed questions to make sure you’re perfectly clear about what the client wants and needs. “Don’t expect the client to hold your hand or make exceptions for you — either you understand their objectives or you don’t,” says Long of the NMSDC. When doing your proposal, never promise something you know you can’t deliver.
7. BE TIMELY IN YOUR RESPONSES.
Do not, we repeat, do not be late getting back to the client with bids, proposals, estimates, schedules or whatever else they are expecting from you. If you’re late with this information, you’ll probably do no better during actual delivery of the product or service.
Also, if you make an appointment, keep it. Poor follow-up, including failure to send promised materials, is particularly annoying to buyers, according to a recent survey conducted by Purchasing magazine.
8. ESTIMATE TIME END COST CAREFULLY.
Make sure your estimations are on target (for your sake, as well as the client’s), and that you cover all components of the proposed job. “Corporations expect us to come in cheaper, and often that’s the reason they express interest in hiring us in the first place. But don’t be intimidated by this thinking,” warns Rasheed. “Never cheat yourself by low-balling to get the job. You’ll end up paying for the privilege of serving the client. The client won’t appreciate your sacrifice and will expect future jobs to be priced accordingly. Value your services fairly.” Again, research will help you keep your prices in the ballpark. What do your competitors charge? Inquire from buyers at companies you may not be interested in doing business with and ask what they typically pay for a service or product such as yours. Attend trade shows and read publications about your industry. Ask other business owners about their rates for comparable services. After a bidding process, ask the buyer where your company came in. Your safest