Finding the Loose Connection

… and Getting Yourself a “Yes”

switchboardYou pick up the phone — to call a prospective client with whom you’ve wanted to meet for a while. Today feels like the day. You make the call, get them on the line, and ask if you can come by their office for a meeting.

They say, “No thanks.”

Once a prospective client has said “no” to your request for a meeting, it’s even more difficult to get a “yes” later. You’ve already been disqualified. Getting a “no” switched to a “yes” is like getting someone to add an item to their to-do list that they’ve already crossed off. They disqualified you. From their perspective, that was progress. Getting an initial “no” is a situation to be avoided.

How might you increase the odds of a “yes” when you make that call?

Getting a “yes” rather than a “no” to a meeting request usually requires just one thing: a connection, however loose, between you and your prospect. Establish some connection, any connection, and your request for a meeting will usually be answered affirmatively.

What do we mean by connection? Here’s a list of reasons people are more likely to say yes to your request for a meeting. (Lists are useful to spark creative thinking.) When you read the list, let your brain make a creative connection — in this case a connection to a connection you may have to your client. (These are loosely ordered, starting with the strongest connections first.)

Network
  1. Someone your client knows referred you, especially if they sent an email saying so first. (This is gold.)
  2. You share a professional network. Someone in your company knows someone in theirs.
  3. You work with a well-known individual (or company or entity). For example if your clients are scientists, and the National Science Foundation is a client of yours, this is often enough of a connection to get a yes.
  4. You are connected to people who might be useful to them, service providers, researchers.
  5. You know people in common outside of work, through a club, a sport a hobby, or simple geography.
Your Company
  1. You can execute demonstrably faster or better than your competitors, and this might matter to your prospect.
  2. You have new capabilities of which your prospective client is unaware, which they might be able to profit from.
Your Business Knowledge
  1. You offer interesting insights into your client’s business.
  2. You have intelligence relevant to an initiative your client is undertaking.
  3. You work with companies in their supply or delivery chain, (and sometimes even a company who is a competitor.)
  4. You have specific experience in a niche they occupy.
  5. You can point to specific tricky problems that you solved with your creative and innovative capacity.
Serendipity
  1. You are going to be in their neighborhood or city.

Find a connection. Once you have a connection, we’ll tell you in the next post, how to employ that connection to get a yes to your request.

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