I was talking with a prospect last year who asked me what Rally does. We do a couple of things, and I assumed I knew which platform he wanted to hear about. So I rambled on about it for a while. When I finished my spiel, my prospect said, “Well, that’s not really what we need.”
Oh boy. I slowly took my foot out of my mouth.
He then proceeded to tell me what he needed. While we could still meet his needs, I had just wasted 10 minutes of his time talking about a platform that doesn’t apply to him. Had I asked him his needs first – and listened – I could have tailored my comments to his needs, and not wasted his time nor made myself look like a pompous fool for assuming his needs.
When a prospect asks what you do, it’s exciting! You probably think, “It’s my turn to sell, sell, sell!!! When I’m finished talking, he’ll be asking where to sign!”
It is exciting to be asked to talk about your business. But in prospecting, you have to understand your prospect’s business before you can talk about yours. That exchange will let you know how to organize your thoughts, pitch your business, or cut it short if there’s not a fit. There’s nothing more agonizing than listening to a sales pitch that doesn’t apply to you. It’s great to learn more about someone else’s company (in the event you can provide a referral), but no one wants to be subjected to a meaningless sales pitch.
Listen first. Your prospect will be delighted to talk about how they do business, and what their needs are. Then provide your solution that will meet their needs, and hopefully your needs too.
By the way, we did sign that prospect, though it took several months of conversations, nudges and drips. Which, in the end, he said he appreciated.