I have been in offline sales for over 10 years and have found what to be a valuable gem. In this age of social marketing the business world has taken a spin into a world of relationship building, trust building, and reputation.
In the 1950s thru the 1990s salesman could knock on the business doors and ask if they could take 10 minutes of the business owner's time. Getting passed the gatekeeper has always been an obstacle, but the era of business owners making time for the "sales stranger" is growing more and more difficult in the new millenium.
You can see, the business world has become a referral-based industry. Referrals from Facebook friends, leads from Linkedin, and other network channels are where businesses are turning for trusted products and services.
It is good to build these "virtual" relationships online, but it is equally if not more important to build "real" relationships and "real" trust offline as well.
There are many programs, WSOs and reports on how to be the "Power Closer" in the offline world, it may or may not work as it's been written.
In my 10+ years, I have learned that if you add one step... a crucial step to your consulting technique, it will drastically change the persona of a salesman who wants the business owner's money, to a consultant who wants to listen to the business owner's problems and who truly wants to help with their business' growth and longevity.
Here is the gem... the extra step. Treat the business owner to coffee. Yep, coffee. If the owner is too busy to meet you during business hours, which almost always is the case- then meet them for coffee in the morning before work or coffee in the after hours. Meet at a Starbucks or Panera's.
This is good. The business owner will be more focused, not feeling rushed, and will be more free to share the concerns he/she has about their business.
Building trust: Talk to the owner and tell them what you do as a consultant, not as a salesman. Explain to them, you understand how local businesses are taking a hit because of the economy. How, you provide marketing strategies that will help their company grow and thrive in today's market.
This is what you say and it works like a charm, "I would really like to buy you coffee. Would you like to meet in the morning or in the evening?" "I want to listen... I want listen to the struggles you may be having with your business and see how I can help."
"WHAT?" You are saying, "Where's the magic closing line to land that massive contract?" You will get there, but all you are doing is building trust.
Does it work? Yes
The business owner will feel two things:
1.) You are investing your own time and money (even though it's a coffee) and that makes them feel valued.
2.) You are a consultant who cares about his/her needs and not a salesman who is trying to get into their wallet. They feel like you really want to find a solution to their business' needs.
Building the relationship:
When you meet with them for coffee, again explain who you are and what you provide as a consultant. Then say these words, "I am here to listen. I want to know your business' needs and where I can help."
Explain that you understand there are areas of their company that could use more focus, but because of his/her busy schedule, they haven't had the time to work on a good strategy and you would like to see how you can help them. Most often, it's bringing in more customers/clients. I have found as I sit with the business owner, "off the clock", it turns into a counseling session. They really pour it on me. It starts off business-like, but then they start to share their personal struggles and concerns they are having with their business.
During this time, you need to stay focused. Nod your head and write down all areas of their business that needs your services. You will come across as a great listener and someone who cares - brilliant!
When they are done listing out all their concerns:
You simply say, "I know I can help your business. Do you mind if I share some solutions with you?"
The BO will say, "YES!" They have turned desperate and need your help with growing their business. Simply go down your list and tell them what you can do for them. I personally get my foot in the door and say something like this. "It sounds like you need to become more visible on the internet and I can get more people to see your site." -or- "I see you need a stronger following and I can help you increase your customer-base by providing a social media package."
Here's the closing statement, "Jim or Jane, I appreciate you being very open with me about your business' needs. I listened and jotted down all your concerns. I want to put these packages together for you so you can start seeing results quickly. Tomorrow, I will have the packages put together for you. Let's meet here again at AM/PM and I will have a very practical solution for you."
Most often, the business owner will thank YOU for taking the time to meet with them. They will walk away feeling good they could share and they feel like you truly listened to their needs.
(They will be up all night wondering what it is you will be providing for the success of their business!)
The next day, CLOSE THE DEAL!
Simple, Passive, Strong, and it works!
Here's to a cup of coffee!