When you first meet with a new prospective client, what do you say?
Some talk all about their services and their unique process.
Others talk about their outcomes and results.
But my colleague, Mark Thompson, always first talks about his prospective clients’ “three key issues.”
“The name of the game,” Mark says, “is qualification, qualification, qualification.”
That is, are they an ideal prospect for your services? And by first talking about the three key issues that you know your ideal clients are dealing with, both you and your prospective clients know if they’re qualified or not.
Forget about persuasion and put your focus on elimination. So much time and effort is expended on explaining how wonderful your services are and what great results your clients will achieve.
Guess, what? They don’t care.
What they do care about is whether or not you understand the key issues they are dealing with and what those issues are costing them.
If you can clearly articulate those issues, you have their attention.
So, what exactly do you say?
Here’s an edited transcript from an interview that I did with Mark a few months ago:
“I don’t know if strategy is of interest to you or even on your radar today but when I talk to people about strategy and they appreciate having that conversation with me, it’s for one of three reasons.
“Are any of these on your radar or are any of these worth talking about?
“Number one is that there is frustration around the fact that there’s not a consensus about the concept of the future strategy of the business. And when that happens it usually shows up as no growth or incremental growth.
“Second, you’re sick and tired of everyone saying yes to everything because they have no way of saying no. So they spend a lot of time chasing shiny objects. And this shows up as a Battle Royale for resources.
“The third one is that there’s not a seamless transition from strategy to execution. As a result, shareholders and owners get concerned that there’s not a return on investment in an appropriate amount of time.”
“So, are any of these issues for you? And is it worth exploring how these can be resolved?”
The good news is that this issues-based approach can be adapted to just about any professional service:
Productivity, teamwork, marketing, operations, financial, compliance, sustainability, etc.
You can take what Mark says and adapt the structure to your initial conversations with just about any prospective client.
Notice that each issue statement has two main parts:
1. The issue or problem itself.
2. What this issue is costing the company?
I liked Mark’s approach so much that I’ve recently adapted it to my initial conversations with prospective clients.
It helps me quickly zero in and see if the person I’m speaking with is dealing with the issues that I’m an expert at solving.
My three client issues
You’re dissatisfied with your marketing message and your written marketing materials because they are not getting the attention of your prospective clients and powerfully communicating your value.
You’re struggling with getting in front of qualified prospective clients or even those who can refer you to prospective clients. As a result, your marketing is at a standstill and you have very few prospects in your pipeline.
When you do meet with prospective clients, you are only converting a small percentage of them into good, paying clients. So, your desired income is below what you need to really thrive in your business.
None of these issue statements are hype. They are an accurate representation of what I’ve heard from my clients over the years. They are the three main things that prevent most self-employed professionals from attracting more of their ideal clients.
So, what are the top three issues that your clients are dealing with right now? And are you confident that your services can help them resolve those issues for a fee that’s much lower than what those issues are costing them?
Your Action Plan
Work on articulating your issues statements and then start using them the very next time you meet with a prospective client.
About the 12 Ps Articles
I’ve written four of the 12 P articles so far. But I discovered that there are other topics that I feel can’t wait. So, I’ll be interspersing the rest of the 12 P articles between my other articles over the next few months.