With half of Australia still under lock and key, there has never been a more important time to be able to turn virtual prospect meetings into profitable new instructions. Alistair Marshall, Director at Professional Services BD shares how you can turn your Zoom meetings into more billable work.

I have just done some quick analysis. Since the start of the new financial year, I have started thirteen new client projects and in all but two of those I had to go through the beauty parade process and pass the Zoom test before gaining the clients favourable response to go ahead. In some cases, more than one meeting was required.

The truth is, there is NO difference between an in-person and a virtual prospect meeting. Sorry to disappoint. You just need to approach the meeting with the same professionalism and enthusiasm you would for any in-person contact. You still need to start with building rapport and finding out what is likely to motivate the prospect to change their current circumstances.

Let’s start with first impressions. Dress code. How is your Zoom suit? Track pants and hoodie may now be the uniform of choice for working from home but you need to raise your game for the prospect meeting. And smile!

Next, consider both sound and vision. Not a David Bowie reference, but rather after eighteen months you should have sourced both a decent light and microphone for your online conference meetings. Too many people are still poorly lit, have the angle of the camera all wrong with people staring up their nose, and have a room full of chaos as a backdrop. Not a good start to any relationship. No excuses.

Now onto the real crux of the matter.

Remember people only buy what they want to buy, not what they need to buy and certainly not what you want them to buy. People sometimes say to me, Alistair you are a good talker, I bet you’re quite good at this selling game. I can hold my own but the reason I fare better than most is that I ask better questions and so receive better answers. You too can learn this skill. And you start by talking less and changing your objective for the meeting from ‘what can I get out of this prospect’ to ‘how can I help this prospect to achieve their goals.’ Just this simple change of attitude can make a huge difference in the way you come across and the questions and vocabulary you use.

For years, professionals from all walks of life such as lawyers, accountants, engineers and B2B agencies have held flat white meetings all over the CBD in the nation’s capitals and often achieved very little. Indeed most professional services firms suffer from not a marketing problem, in that they cannot gain meetings with prospective clients and referrers, but rather a business development problem, in that they just don’t convert enough of them into profitable work. The opportunity to improve is vast and should not be underestimated.

When I am teaching Conversion Training to professionals, I always share my list of questions which I openly share with prospects at a first meeting. There is no secret in me having it. It demonstrates my preparation and determination to leave no stone unturned in my search to find the best solution for the potential client. It also provides a place to record answers/notes which demonstrates active listening.

I share lists of hundreds of questions with my coaching clients who choose the ones that best suit their personality and circumstance and allows them to uncover information around the following key areas vital to being given the green light to progress.

  • What is driving the need for a project/Current situation?
  • How are they currently dealing with it?
  • What is it costing? (Not just in financial terms but in reputation etc)
  • How much would it be worth to solve this problem?
  • What is the end result if they do nothing?
  • What would it mean to the business and individual in solving the issue?
  • If they could design the perfect solution, what would it look like?
  • How will they measure the success of the project?
  • What time frames are they looking at. What urgency is there around the need.
  • Who else is involved in the decision making progress? Do they have a budget? What alternatives do they have.
  • If price is taken out of the equation, what factors would make the prospect choose one provider over another.
  • What other competing initiatives may take precedence over this.
  • On a scale of one to ten, how confident do they feel about progressing to the next stage? What would we have needed to say to get a ten.
  • How would they like to take this forward?

These are a dozen areas that if you can find the answers, can change your financial life. Forever.

I have worked with thousands of introverted characters and individuals previously who saw themselves as industry experts rather than marketers or salesmen. They have made huge improvements in confidence and subsequently their results by introducing the necessary disciplines, tools and questions to their daily routines.

If they can do it. So can you and your teams.

If you would welcome a discussion as to how this could drive your organisation forward, do get in touch.

About the Author

Authored by Alistair Marshall, Director at Professional Services BD.

Alistair has helped more than 150+ professional services firms add six and seven figures to their bottom line.

To learn more got to www.professionalservicesbd.com.au.