The other night I spent 4 to 5 hours meeting face to face, a number of prospects I had never met before. What a difference it made. I met and talked with at least 5 people I previously had only phone conversations with.
1) Prospect 1 – wasn’t calling me back, inspite of numerous phones calls.
2) Prospect 2 – we talked once, he liked what we were doing and wanted to talk again. We had agreed ahead of time to talk at this event.
3) Prospect 3 – wants our product, but hadn’t called me back in a few weeks, he had gone dark
4) Prospect 4 – was interested, said he wanted to move forward, but had also gone dark
5) Prospect 5 – said he wasn’t interested and didn’t want to move forward.
All these prospects were at an industry event. I had plans to meet only one of them and in the other cases I didn’t even know they were attending. Through out the night I continued to bump into or engage each of these prospects and was able to put a face to a name and extend the relationship.
1) Prospect 1 – the guy who wouldn’t call me back. — We played foosball together, talked about the unbelievable amounts of snow in Tahoe and found out we have a common friend. He asked me to call him in late spring. I’m confident he’ll take my call this time.
2) Prospect 2 – we had agreed to meet at the event — we also played foosball, against prospect one. He is friends with prospect 1 and shared his positive thoughts on our product with him. I learned he is the father of all girls as well. He let me know when his budget cycle is, who the decision make is, and what he wants to do to move the process forward. We are on the same page and are working together to make the sale.
3) Prospect 3 – the prospect who had gone dark — he bought me a beer. He told me he wasn’t avoiding me. That they want our product and told me he liked the most recent info I sent him. He said he wants to get together before their budget meeting to build his case for our offer. We are scheduling that now.
4) Prospect 4 – the prospect who had also gone dark — he was the person I spoke with the least, but still had a good conversation. He asked me to call him in a few weeks and reiterated their interest. I also met someone on his team, who had some big visions for her department we can help her with. She affirmed that she had heard of us and that our name was being bounced around her mountain a lot. It’s good to know we’re being talked about.
5) Prospect 5 – the prospect who wasn’t interested in our product — we shared a drink, he scotch, me a beer. We talked for 45 minutes about golf, skiing, ski instruction, the impact of the economy on ski and snowboard schools and how things are changing. I met his wife and she joined the conversation. At the end, he asked me to golf with him in the spring and talk more about our platform. His position didn’t change, but he did open the door for more dialog.
From 8:00 to 12:00 I met with 5 prospects, and countless other people in our industry. It was in a causal, informal environment. We talked, debated and engaged. Every encounter improved the personal and business relationship. I got to learn about the people we’re selling to. They got to see the face of the person who has been relentlessly calling them for months. We got to talk about something OTHER than Socially Booked. I saw their face, learned about their families, we talked about their mountain, we got to know each other. It became personal.
Sales has changed. There are fewer lunches, dinners, golf outings and boondoggles. More and more business is being done via, email, social media, the Blackberry and IPhone. In spite of all that, it doesn’t mean face time doesn’t matter. We all feel better and more comfortable when we know who we are working with, when we have a face to a name. That has never been more apparent to me than the other night.
Get out and meet your prospects and customers. It’ll make a difference.