Consultant vs Salesman - A Real Gem

26 replies
Hello Warriors,

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.
Passive? Yes
Simple? Yes
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!
Jeff
#consultant #gem #offline #offline strategy #real #salesman
  • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
    This post makes me more happy than I can tell you. I am thrilled to read this and now I cannot wait to get on the phone tomorrow morning. Thank you.
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    • Profile picture of the author rainingproblems
      Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

      This post makes me more happy than I can tell you. I am thrilled to read this and now I cannot wait to get on the phone tomorrow morning. Thank you.
      I see am not the only one preparing my script for tomorrow...I never thought I'd get down to cold calling...I was more of a direct mail person.
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  • Profile picture of the author RobbieT
    Thanks for sharing a simple solution, cleverly applied.

    Meeting away from the business and out of operating hours is a good idea.

    Before work is usually better than after work as I have found the BO can be run ragged and completely bushed at the end of the day.

    If you are a good listener (and don't interrupt with your solutions) and take notes you have made a friend.

    Take good care of those that you love.

    Robbie T
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    • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
      Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

      This post makes me more happy than I can tell you. I am thrilled to read this and now I cannot wait to get on the phone tomorrow morning. Thank you.
      beeswarn, I am glad this inspired you to take action! Build those relationships, meet their needs, and close those deals.

      Cheers!


      Originally Posted by RobbieT View Post

      Thanks for sharing a simple solution, cleverly applied.

      Meeting away from the business and out of operating hours is a good idea.

      Before work is usually better than after work as I have found the BO can be run ragged and completely bushed at the end of the day.

      If you are a good listener (and don't interrupt with your solutions) and take notes you have made a friend.

      Take good care of those that you love.

      Robbie T

      Robbie T, Thanks for your feedback! Yes, meeting away from their place of business and meeting for coffee makes it neutral and a more relaxing approach. It puts the guard down and opens up deepand strong conversation. Yes... listening is everything!

      Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author BillBert
    Can I ask how many customers have you actually landed with this approach in the last, say 12 months?
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  • Profile picture of the author paul_1
    This is surely worth a try...
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  • Profile picture of the author terip
    This is a simple yet great approach to remind us that if we want to sell something we don't have to go back to being pushy salesmen of days old.
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  • Profile picture of the author MoneyMakerGroup
    If we want to sell something we need call emotions. is the first and most important rule
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    I disagree completely with business owners turning away people who show up on our doorsteps.

    Why? Because no one does it anymore. If you did that today you would stand out but it is too much work compared to emails and cold calls so it doesn't get done anymore.

    My two cents as always if you are marketing local do cold walk ins. You will stand out and get noticed.
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    • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
      Originally Posted by BillBert View Post

      Can I ask how many customers have you actually landed with this approach in the last, say 12 months?
      BillBert, When you get the prospect to meet you for coffee, the closing rate for me personally is 7 out of 10. My experience is, when they spend the time to open up, share, and spill their concerns - I believe they feel obligated, (not by pressure sales, quite possibly by their own guilt), the BO does take the time to go over the solution and services you have to offer. From there it's your duty to close the deal.

      Cheers!


      Originally Posted by Aaron Doud View Post

      I disagree completely with business owners turning away people who show up on our doorsteps.

      Why? Because no one does it anymore. If you did that today you would stand out but it is too much work compared to emails and cold calls so it doesn't get done anymore.

      My two cents as always if you are marketing local do cold walk ins. You will stand out and get noticed.

      Aaron, thanks for your "two cents"

      Some may have better experiences than others with "cold visits".
      By no means did I state, not to do "cold visits". It seems BOs are very busy and at least claim they don't have time or don't want to be bothered during business hours.

      I do "cold visits" to local businesses and am using this approach. I ask if they have time for me to share how I can help their business- When they tell me they are too busy to talk, I say "I would like to buy you coffee. I want to sit down and listen to any areas your company could use some attention. Is early morning or evening best?"

      Never ask yes/no questions! The quick knee-jerk reaction is going to be a No. Give them an option of morning or evening. It works well! Bottom line, if they say they are still too busy, then it's not worth either one of your time. Always leave literature and a business card behind.

      You never know, it may take a week or even months, but they may take you up on that coffee

      Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author Dexx
    Heh, I agree this strategy works very well! I actually have a 8/10 closing rate with qualified prospects using this method...heck, I even made a training course on it a couple years ago:

    The Coffee Close - Land Your Next Offline Client Over Coffee! | The Offline Toolkit - Training Resources and Tools for Marketers

    At the end of the day the most effective selling technique is to listen for existing problems and desires...and then give them the exact solution they require

    Cheers,

    ~Dexx
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    • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
      Originally Posted by Dexx View Post

      Heh, I agree this strategy works very well! I actually have a 8/10 closing rate with qualified prospects using this method...heck, I even made a training course on it a couple years ago:

      The Coffee Close - Land Your Next Offline Client Over Coffee! | The Offline Toolkit - Training Resources and Tools for Marketers

      At the end of the day the most effective selling technique is to listen for existing problems and desires...and then give them the exact solution they require

      Cheers,

      ~Dexx

      There you go Warriors. Dexx has chimed in (with a shameless plug lol) that this strategy works. I've never seen or read Dexx's work, but it might be a good resource to investigate.

      Cheers!
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    • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
      Warriors,

      I have seen mixed reviews about the strategy I DO use and DOES work. There has been some really great insight shared here as to what is working for other Warriors... and KUDOS to your success!

      The strategy I shared about meeting for coffee does work and is effective! Otherwise, I assure you I wouldn't have posted it.

      Look at what a veteran WarRoom Warrior says about this strategy from Post #12. Although his close rate is a bit higher than mine:

      Originally Posted by Dexx View Post

      Heh, I agree this strategy works very well! I actually have a 8/10 closing rate with qualified prospects using this method...heck, I even made a training course on it a couple years ago:

      The Coffee Close - Land Your Next Offline Client Over Coffee! | The Offline Toolkit - Training Resources and Tools for Marketers

      At the end of the day the most effective selling technique is to listen for existing problems and desires...and then give them the exact solution they require

      Cheers,

      ~Dexx

      I don't presume everyone will like this strategy, but it doesn't mean it's ineffective. Here's an example: How many of you have bought a WSO from a very reputable Warrior because he discovered a method that makes him good, sustainable money... to only find out it's a method that is not suitable for you, for whatever reason. Maybe it's tedious work, it doesn't fit your personality, or it's just a method that's not a good fit for you. Out of respect for that Warrior, you don't go to his thread and say "Your method sucks, it's crap!" Instead, you just realize what may work for him/her, may not work for you-and you move on.

      This strategy does work. If it doesn't fit your personality, if you don't like the strategy, and it's not for you- it's okay and move on.

      P.S. No one could have said it any better than Michael Bucker in his prior post. Well said!

      I respect all of you and I hope all the best of success!

      Cheers!
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  • Profile picture of the author KuanYew
    A funny thing I heard from a business owner, quite a young chap and successful one I must say, he calls his staff consultants rather than sales managers, the reason:

    If a prospects hears "hi sir, there's a sales manager out there who wants to meet you" - he's gonna think, "what? he's trying to sell me something, pls say i'm busy"

    However, if he hears "hi sir, there's a business consultant out there who wants to meet you" - he's probably gonna think "a business consultant? i wonder what he can share to help make my business better, please invite him in"

    haha, that's the difference in a salesman versus a consultant i guess, not sure if it applies to other countries (the biz owner who shared this is from malaysia)
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    • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
      Looking4Mentor, I compete with you in your home town. It is a great comfort to be assured that while I'm working hard to build my business with high-quality services, you're busy calling the same people I am to ask them out on mini-dates.
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      • Profile picture of the author David Miller
        Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

        Looking4Mentor, I compete with you in your home town. It is a great comfort to be assured that while I'm working hard to build my business with high-quality services, you're busy calling the same people I am to ask them out on mini-dates.

        Outstanding! Thanks for the laugh....yet another system to avoid "looking like a salesman"...

        I hope that EVERYONE uses it.
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        The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.
        -- FRANK SINATRA, quoted in The Way You Wear Your Hat
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      • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
        Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

        Looking4Mentor, I compete with you in your home town. It is a great comfort to be assured that while I'm working hard to build my business with high-quality services, you're busy calling the same people I am to ask them out on mini-dates.
        beeswarn, lol. No worries, the market out here is big enough for the both of us There are at least 12 major niches and so much oportunity. There is enough coffee to go around for a long time!

        Cheers!
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      • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
        Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

        Looking4Mentor, I compete with you in your home town. It is a great comfort to be assured that while I'm working hard to build my business with high-quality services, you're busy calling the same people I am to ask them out on mini-dates.

        LOL!

        Looks like I compete with both of you, I didn't even take a look at this thread but I had 2 sales from columbus last week and 1 in cincy. Although, one from columbus found me, not me calling him. He did thank me for not acting "strange". I said, "what do you mean, strange"? He mentioned he gets marketers wanting to meet him all the time, or do a lunch meeting. He goes on saying, I don't have time for weird ****. One thing he said that I think will always stick with me forever is, "if you're taking up my time to call and sell me something, make it good and make it fast, don't ask me out to eat or take up more time".

        Time is a valuable commodity.
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  • Profile picture of the author Colin Fox
    LookingForMentor - an excellent post. I will try this. At the moment I meet in their work environment (before or after work as well). The reason being is that it is their environment and they are comfortable there. I am wondering though if you have ever found a coffee shop quiet that suddenly got busy so they don't really feel comfortable incase someone overhears them discussing their problems?
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  • Profile picture of the author chicka
    For me, a salesman is a bit more on the rough and fast-paced side, but when you say consultant, he is more on the slowly but surely kind of approach.
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    • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
      chicka, you're all wrong. And that's good, because you're paying attention to the debate so you have a chance to learn.

      I called 25 businesses in the OP's home market today. I'm not tying to single him out, it's my main market too.

      I made one sale (dare I say it?) entirely over the phone without ever meeting the owner or visiting his place of business. I also set 2 appointments to visit tomorrow Tuesday, March 13.

      I didn't creep up on anyone, I didn't invite any busy people out on mini-dates, I didn't pretend to be anyone's new best friend and no one thinks I'm gay.

      I will make another sale during one of those appointments tomorrow. The one I've already sold paid me $100 by credit card to sign up today. For the next 12 months he's under contract for a minimum of $75.00 per month.

      I would have made 100 calls in his home market today, but I had 6 appointments I set last week. I closed 4 of those at the same terms as in the paragraph above.
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      • Profile picture of the author Looking4Mentor
        Originally Posted by beeswarn View Post

        chicka, you're all wrong. And that's good, because you're paying attention to the debate so you have a chance to learn.

        I called 25 businesses in the OP's home market today. I'm not tying to single him out, it's my main market too.

        I made one sale (dare I say it?) entirely over the phone without ever meeting the owner or visiting his place of business. I also set 2 appointments to visit tomorrow Tuesday, March 13.

        I didn't creep up on anyone, I didn't invite any busy people out on mini-dates, I didn't pretend to be anyone's new best friend and no one thinks I'm gay.

        I will make another sale during one of those appointments tomorrow. The one I've already sold paid me $100 by credit card to sign up today. For the next 12 months he's under contract for a minimum of $75.00 per month.

        I would have made 100 calls in his home market today, but I had 6 appointments I set last week. I closed 4 of those at the same terms as in the paragraph above.

        CONGRATS!

        In sales, everyone finds their "style" to selling. It looks like yours is doing well for you and keep it going. Mine works well for me and it's a free, valuable strategy that I like to share with fellow Warriors since they have given much to me.

        If their offline strategy isn't working for them, then I am introducing a different and effective "style" for them to try.

        If your "style" is working as well as you say, then I say KUDOS to you and open up your own thread, be generous and share exactly how you did it.

        Cheers!
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        • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
          Looking4Mentor, I don't need my own thread to explain how I did it. I called 25 businesses. I pitched them a service, I showed them benefits and I gave them proof. One bought immediately, 2 gave me appointments for the very next day. The other 22 couldn't come to the phone or couldn't understand how to leave instructions for what their employees should do when someone important calls.

          I didn't go to any of their kids' basketball games, and I didn't offer to wash their cars or offer to babysit for them. I didn't creep up on them, and I didn't have to invite them go to a Short North bar for um ... "coffee."

          I don't have a "style." And I don't have a wife to pay all my bills while I creep around asking lonely men to have coffee with me.

          I have a service and I market it. I have a list, I have a phone and I make calls. I don't make excuses and I don't make up extravagant fantasy pitches I could make to imaginary people I've made up.

          I know the forum rules and I don't expect you to be offended by me mocking your imaginary system, because I know you're making it up. The issue is that new people don't realize you're making this stuff up. They think that when you say "I do this," you actually do that.

          Your way has never worked, not even once, and we both know it. Please don't try to divert newbies into not selling anything by enticing them to subscribe to the imaginary way that you don't sell anything.

          You can do what I do, too. You just have to try it. You have to make the next call, no matter how stupid you feel after the last one, or how intimidated you are by the next one. I get cold-calling anxiety all the time. But you can overcome it just like I do -- by forcefully reaching for the phone and dialing the next number.

          Trust me, I'm much more shy than you are. You really can do this. If I can, then you can. I promise. Give it a try. Send me a PM when something good happens. Something good will, if you stick to it for even a day or two.
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          • Profile picture of the author David Miller
            @beeswarn - Way to go! I love to see someone sell, sell honestly, and sell with integrity and disprove all this kumbyah nonsense.

            Speaking for myself, I've come to the decision that I'm just going to ignore the threads and posts that promote these silly ideas that:

            all sales people are push liars
            sales is about making friends
            pretending you're there to make them your best friend

            Whatever their reason is for thinking the way they do about sales, that's their loss. I've spent too much time and given away too much valuable information already.

            I'm sure that many times one of their buddies will be late for their coffee date because they're in their office closing a deal with you or me!

            __________________________

            I'm trying to imagine a circumstance under which I would cold call a business owner and invite them for coffee! I simply can't see how or why such a thing would be called for. Like beeswarn suggests, I don't believe anyone has actually done this, but throws this bs up on the forum in the hopes that someone else will to see if it can be done.
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            The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.
            -- FRANK SINATRA, quoted in The Way You Wear Your Hat
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  • Profile picture of the author Michael Bucker
    I don’t know how many times I have to say this on these threads. Looking4amentor is right, David miller is right, iamnamless is right and Aaron is right.

    As stated in previous threads the reason all of you are correct is because there are different personalities that exist.

    You can argue that looking4amentor is wrong all day long but he is getting paid, and 7 out of 10 is a good closing ratio. His method fits his personality and apparently fits the personality of those he closes.

    Now if his closing ratio was 1 out of 10 I would say too much time is spent in the situation. However, as well all know time spent is relative to both the individual and success ratios.

    I am willing to bet that looking4amentor has the same stories as iamnamless has. I bet he has had clients say thank you for taking your time and not just calling me with a quick close of how you can make me money. I like someone who is personable.

    There are four major personality types that exist. David miller and Iamnamless methods are hit a big majority of two of those personality types and will always be successful and will even leak into a third one at times. Very successful way of doing things.

    However, looking4amentor does have success evidently and the reason is, there are two other personality types that respond best with his personal approach.

    I cold call most all my clients face to face and I have to use both these methods depending on who I am dealing with. A lot of business owners I face want the facts and then they are done. Others, I have had to build a relationship with before I closed them. My most recent contract took a 2 year relationship to close. However they now pay me $1,500 monthly. In another 4 months they will be paying me more than they are now. This is one of my smallest accounts. However I still appreciate their check.


    David Miller and Iamnameless, I prefer the straight forward method in handling business and moving on. Those are my favorite closes and clients at times. Looking4amentor, when I build a relationship those are often my longest lasting clients.


    Note my form of selling my services is hard core selling most of the time, but I enjoy the change of the closes I get when it’s a relationship as well. I am lucky enough to be in a situation where I am able to do both and both work for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author BostonTweetUp
    @Looking4Mentor Thanks for starting this post as it has brought to light a variety of sales different approaches and techniques.

    I especially like that you started off by saying

    "In this age of social marketing the business world has taken a spin into a world of relationship building, trust building, and reputation."
    I think more needs to be said about "relationship building, trust building, and reputation" as I think it has cause a bit of confusion as to what it means to really build relationships, instill trust and demonstrate a good reputation today.

    By now I think we as offline consultants all know that we do business with the people we "know, like and trust".

    Said another way, our clients do business with us because they "Know, Like and Trust" that we will do the job for them.

    Now since Like and Trust are subjective vs Knowledge which is based on fact, I will initially focus on them.

    The reason why this is important is because Life Is Too Short and we want to make as much money as we can in the shortest time possible.

    So the Quicker we can get our prospects to Like and Trust Us, the Quicker we can get Paid!

    Now, although there is a negative connotation to the strategy of "Getting Rich Quick", that's what we are all striving for, otherwise what's the point?

    What this post was able to highlight is that there are a variety of different tactics to achieving our Business Development goal of Getting Rich Quick.

    Now although this post started off by stating we are living in a referral based society not much was said about how to best leverage that fact in relation to our offline strategy.

    I do like certain elements of the coffee method, however to me it's not scalable and there is a built in sales delay. Also I take it that you qualified them and found out their budget before the meeting.

    Now every service industry is different however if your on this forum I take it you offer Internet and/or Social Media Marketing. If that is the case than it has never been easier to close business with clients you actually want to work with.

    Since I don't like Cold Calling, or just walking into a business randomly, I an slightly augmented tactic.

    I prefer hosting and/or promoting tweetups/meetups.

    I have the prospects come to me and/or my clients, which is the "Knowing" part of the equation. The event registration list provides me/my clients with a list of warm prospects.

    I leverage Social media to get the word out about the event, Social Proof which leads to Trust.

    Instead of sales presentations there are informational panels ie how to best use Social Media to generate leads, how to excel in Local Video Marketing, etc (whatever your business is in and the expertise you want to be known for) which helps build the Liking and Trusting part of the equation.

    We assign each talk with a Twitter hashtag and for those prospects that are semi-twitter saavy, they can tweet out Golden nuggets that you share with them, which then adds to additional Social Proof ie More Trust.

    [Remember to Favorite those good Quotes for future use ie additional Testimonials]

    I often get the participants to rate the talk (speakerrate is a good resource) which acts as testimonials (more Trust) and/or have the sessions recorded for future speaking opportunities (more warm leads).

    As a bonus, you can set the prospect's expectations by talking ideal budget ranges to invest in proven results ie the Industry average for results like these range from xxx-xxxx for YY results.

    Afterwards the talks, there's casual social networking that helps continue to build the Liking part. You can even invite current clients which helps continue to build the Trust part.

    Depending on your product and/or service you can have some products available after the talk.

    So instead of just meeting with one client at a time, you meet with a group of warm prospects.

    Now when you have coffee with them, you can still listen to them however they are essentially just selecting the package that is right for them.

    Another bonus is that you can provide warm leads that you don't want to others for a commission.

    Well I hope this was helpful and provides a slightly different perspective on the Coffee idea.
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