Make the Connection (and the Sale) With Better Initial Client Conversations

ミーティングStarting the conversation with a potential new client is the first challenge you will face after you get that initial foot in the door.

It’s also the point at which the relationship will succeed or fail.

So many people start this conversation out wrong.

Where the Conversation Fails

There are two things that many people do wrong right out of the gate with initial conversations.

  1. Talking to the wrong people at the client’s company
  2. Talking about your firm’s offering instead of the firm’s impact

First, talk to a breadth of people at the company. Don’t stop and pitch when you have a single point of contact – connect with multiple points of contact in multiple departments.

Start the conversation with someone technical, someone in the financial department, someone operational, and even a stakeholder. Get to know what matters to each of them before talking about your firm’s offering. They’re each going to have a unique viewpoint that you can speak to. And addressing the collection of unique viewpoints will demonstrate your firm’s value well beyond what your offering is.

Second, for the initial conversations, stop talking about the details of your offering.

Maybe you offer energy consulting or performance contracting – maybe your offering will save the company money. Who wouldn’t want to save money, right?

Well, the technical guy might not care about that.

How does what you do connect with what they’re worried about? How will your offering affect that person’s job every day? These are the things to address in your initial conversations with each person.

Crossing the Connection Canyon

I always encourage my clients – and you readers – to connect on a deeper level with people at prospective client companies. But there’s another connection that needs to happen when you’re having initial conversations: Connect what you do with what the customer is really worried about.

Often the customer won’t verbalize what it is that they’re worried about. This could be because they don’t trust that you’ll understand the problem, or it could be that they really just don’t know what the deep-down problem is.

Either way, this is why familiarizing yourself with that customer’s business and political issues is so important. When you know the landscape on which that person treads every day, you can address their issue without them having to verbalize it to you.

This is connection magic!

In their minds they’re asking, Do you get me? Do you really understand what I’m wrestling with? And you are answering YES without them having to say a word.

Logic is Not a Reason

Traditional selling goes down what I call the “logic selling” route more often than not. You tell the client, “We’ll save you money!” Because you know logically everyone wants to save money.

But believe it or not, saving money is not a reason for making a decision.

A good reason for making a decision is moving forward toward their vision. Maybe that’s looking good to the executives. Or maybe that’s looking good in their job so they can grow in their career.

There is always an emotional agenda.

Find that emotional agenda and hook into it.

People love to talk about the logical reasons for making a decision because it’s comfortable. But logic is never the reason. The reason is often uncomfortable, and something you have to listen for between the words the customer is saying out loud.

The Bottom Line

Initial conversations with prospective new customers can make or break the rest of your firm’s relationship with that company. Start out on the right foot and you’ll find they will make a decision quickly. Start out on the wrong foot and you’ll be wondering why they still haven’t made a decision months down the line.

Connect with a broad range of people at the company. Then use your knowledge of their emotional agenda and business and political issues to connect your offering with what they actually care about.

Finally, let us know the results! Comment here or send us a tweet at @woassociates and tell us how your initial conversations have changed.


  1. […] you’ve got that initial foot in the door, the conversation that occurs is critical. It’s where you introduce yourself, yes – but more […]

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