Getting that first meeting with prospects can feel like standing at the foot of Mt. Everest and looking up at where you have to go.
It’s one of the first milestones for sellers and its one of the hardest. Without that first meeting sellers are dead in the water – can’t sell if they’re not in the game.
What is a first meeting? Does a message left on voice mail count?
Meeting a prospect is when a seller has an interactive conversation with that prospect. It’s a dialog, a back-and-forth exchange that sellers can do in-person, on the phone, or in emails/text messages/IM chat. It’s often the seller’s first participation in the prospect’s buying process. The trick is to get that first meeting.
Call to Action: What to offer to get first meetings?
Sellers should have a call to action in every communication with prospects – here it’s asking for that first meeting.
But there’s an exchange required. Sellers have to offer something first to buyers before buyers will agree to meet.
There are three types of offers that act as incentives and motivate prospects to stop what they’re doing and converse with sellers. They are:
- Give-to-Get Incentive to Meet
- We’re a Viable Alternative to Your Current Supplier
- Right-Place, Right-Time, Out-of-the-Blue Solution
Give-to-Get Incentive to Meet
My personal favorite, give-to-get presents prospects with a valued incentive in return for that first meeting (aka give-a-way or freemium).
To be successful, sellers must offer incentives that prospects want and at little to no cost, which really means FREE. Examples of incentives include:
- Industry reports (trends, statistics, etc.)
- Service benchmark reports
- In-person seminars
- Discounted services or products
The Give-to-Get Incentive takes some thought and effort to prepare but it’s very effective and can have a long shelf life.
We’re a Viable Alternative to Your Current Supplier
Here sellers offer themselves as next in line suppliers to their prospects (oh golly, how nice of them). Sellers recognize prospects may not have an immediate pain but hope the bid list has one more open slot .
This gives sellers greater hope of getting that first meeting because what prospect can say “No” to having a backup seller to bash.
However, the Viable Alternative is dependent on timing, e.g. prospects must be free from their more pressing tasks and have the inclination to meet another friendly seller.
Right-Place, Right-Time, Out-of-the-Blue Solution
As seen in mass mailings and cold calls, this is where sellers intrude on prospects and offer to fix whatever ails them. Through their messaging in emails, letters, fliers, voice mail sellers ask “You need me, right? Let’s meet!”
Like roulette, sometimes sellers get lucky and a few prospects respond.
The List: 23 Ways to Get First Meetings
This list is actionable only if sellers know who they want to meet and where to reach them, though targeting prospects and getting contact info is another post for another day.
The list is numbered but don’t be fooled. Each one can produce results depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and when and how they’re used.
#1 Linked In: Send a message to your prospect who is a 1st degree connection asking for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (DON’T ask for a meeting by posting an update, it’s public).
#2 Linked In: Request an introduction to your prospect from one of your 1st degree connections. Include your Give-to-Get Incentive in your introduction request (your 1st degree must be connected to your prospect – DON’T ask for a meeting by posting an update, it’s public).
#3 Linked In: Reply privately to your prospect’s comment in a Group Discussion, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (you must be in the Group with your prospect – DON’T ask for a meeting by posting a comment in the Group Discussion, it’s public)
#4 Linked In: Comment in your prospect’s Group Discussions to include your Give-to-Get Incentive and ask to continue your conversation offline (your comment must not appear self-serving but support the conversation – you must be in the group with your prospect – here you are publicly asking for a meeting by posting a comment in the Group Discussion)
#5 Linked In: Buy ads to very targeted prospects presenting your Give-to-Get Incentive in return for a meeting. Link back to a landing page on your web site or blog and convert prospects into meetings (this costs money).
#6 Blog: Include your Give-to-Get Incentive on your blog in return for a meeting. For the long term, turn prospects into subscribers. Publish valued posts that inform and educate prospects. If prospects don’t meet with you initially, they will when they’re ready to buy.
#7 Blog: Guest post on blogs your prospects read, with your author’s byline linking back to your Give-to-Get Incentive on your web site or blog. Long term, turn prospects into subscribers. Publish valued posts so prospects will meet with you when they’re ready to buy.
#8 Blog: Buy advertising on blogs your prospects read, promoting your Give-to-Get Incentive in return for a meeting (this costs money).
#9 Search: Optimize your web site for key words your prospects search for (SEO). Place your Give-to-Get Incentive on a landing page on your web site or blog and convert prospects into meetings.
#10 Trade Association: At an event walk up to your prospect and ask for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive if appropriate.
#11 Trade Association: Work on a trade association committee then ask for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive if appropriate.
#12 Trade Association: Speak at an association event and offer the audience your Give-to-Get Incentives for meetings.
#13 Trade Association: Host a seminar for a trade association and offer your audience Give-to-Get Incentives for meetings.
#14 Trade Association: Buy sponsorship at an association event and promote your Give-to-Get Incentive in return for meetings (this costs money).
#15 Phone prospects directly and ask for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (aka telemarketing, cold calling, etc.).
#16 Snail mail (USPS) prospects asking for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (mass mailings, or targeted one-at-a-time – this costs money).
#17 Email prospects requesting a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (mass mailings, or targeted one-at-a-time).
#18 Drop-in at your prospect’s office and ask for a meeting
#19 Advertise in print offering your Give-to-Get Incentive (trade journals – this costs money)
#20 Advertise online offering your Give-to-Get Incentive (trade association websites – this costs money)
#21 Twitter: Send a private message to your prospect asking for a meeting (can only do this if prospect follows you on Twitter – DON’T ask for a meeting in a public Tweet, it’s seen by all of your followers).
#22 Pay Per Click (PPC): Buy key words your prospects search for and link them back to a landing page at your web site or blog that offers your Give-to-Get Incentive (this costs money).
#23 Facebook: Send a message to your prospect asking for a meeting, include your Give-to-Get Incentive (can only do this if your prospects have friended you in Facebook – DON’T ask for a meeting in a post to their Wall, it’s public to their friends).
Obviously this list doesn’t cover every possibility nor does it dive deep. However, these 23 do provide a checklist to see if there’s something you haven’t yet tried.
What have I missed? Please add to this list. There must be many more ways ways to get those crucial first meetings with prospects. How do you do it? (comment here)
IMAGE: Alone by Paul Friel