The day has finally arrived. You finally landed that meeting with XYZ Company that you’ve been trying to get into for months.
All the time, effort and phone calls have led to this day when you’re finally going to meet with their decision makers.
You’ve put in the extra time finalizing your presentation, figuring out exactly what you want to ask and what you’ll say. Basically you’ve visualized how the entire meeting will play out. You’ve got it all planned, even down to what suit you will wear for the appointment.
You give yourself enough time to arrive at their offices and do so early. Their assistant lets you know that Mr. Customer will be right with you. You wait patiently until you’re called, all the while rehearsing what you’ll say and do during the next sixty or so minutes.
OK, now it’s time. The assistant lets you know that Mr. Customer will now see you. Just as you’re walking in, you start hearing sirens and other noise.
Mr. Customer looks at you and says, “The building’s burning down, you’ve got two minutes. What do you got for me?”
“What? This isn’t supposed to be happening. TWO MINUTES?? What do I say? What do I do?”
What would you do with those two minutes? Are you prepared to communicate what value you can bring to this opportunity, and do so without sounding like a sales person pitching a product?
(Find out what to do…)
OK, this doesn’t really happen. Or does it?
Metaphorically speaking, this happens almost every time you meet with a customer. Every time you sit down with a client, you have your “two minutes.” Your time is valuable, and as you go higher and higher up in a company, their time is more and more valuable. You might be meeting with a very high level manager or officer of the company and they squeezed you in between two other meetings. They want to know what value you can bring them and they want to know it NOW! They don’t have time for long drawn out PowerPoint presentations or endless product pitches. You have a lot to accomplish and not much time to do so.
The key to the next two minutes is for the conversation to be relevant. That’s right. It has to be relevant to their needs. Relevance is defined as “having a bearing on the matter at hand.” Now, obviously, the matter at hand at this point is “Mr. / Mrs. Customer, do you want to know where the Exit Door is?” Let’s look at the real world and assume there isn’t a fire, but time is just as important.
Mr. / Mrs. Customer says, “You have two minutes, what do you got?”
Your first response should be, “I’m not sure yet. I want to confirm a couple of things and let’s see if it makes sense to keep talking. Deal?”
The first thing you did was tell the prospect, “Not sure yet.” You got their guard down and didn’t immediately tell them what you can do, thus sounding like a sales person, which would lead to the prospect building a shield in front of you that is impenetrable.
Secondly, say something like this; “Mr. / Ms. Director/Vice President/Manager, etc., as we look at your market and the business drivers, they can be classified in a couple of different segments; Increasing revenue, Decreasing Costs, Branding, New Market Awareness, or Globalization. (All of this is found on their company’s website. Also a few simple searches on the internet regarding their industry and specific obstacles they face are easy to find. Examples include the Banking Arena and Marketing Effectively, Manufacturing and streamlining processes to compete with overseas, Medical and compliance issues, Service and the cost of doing it “in-house,” etc.)
The point is you have two minutes. Ask yourself these four questions.
- What industry vertical are they in?
- Who are you talking to?
- What is relevant to them?
- How does your product align with their company’s goals?
If you can answer these four questions before you show up, you have a greater chance of making it past two minutes and getting the rest of the hour to find out more.
Finally, if you're a manager, ask your sales people if they know what is relevant to the person they are meeting. If not, they need to do more homework before having the meeting or next call. This is a great role playing exercise for you to practice with co-workers. By practicing this exercise, you won’t be at a loss for words the next time this situation presents itself. You’ll be prepared to put out the fire and show that you’re a step above everyone else.