We’ve all noticed the phenomenon of deciding to buy a particular type of car – say, a Red Mazda – and then suddenly noticing them everywhere. Well that has recently happened in the Speakable office.

It started with a very simple phone call. A previous client, from a lifetime ago, called to see if I could dust off my Sales Training for her Regional Manager’s team. I laughed and said I don’t do that now, I’m focussing on Communication; to which she quite rightly reminded me my entire sales and pitching process is based on conversation and communication.

So I took the training – which was originally based on how I could take someone and turn them into a 7-Figure Recruitment Consultant within a year – dusted it off, and submitted a proposal.

Just 3 days later, one of my clients had an opportunity with a leading national brand to provide a sales trainer and on sharing the proposal I had just dusted off with her, we decided to jointly submit and I have just been contracted to deliver this training across Australia.

And it appears as though every single conversation since then – with clients, with friends, even with family – comes back to how we actually convert, what are the real keys to doing so, and how do we do that to generate cash through a pitch before we even have our digital footprint sorted.

Conversation 1. Actually, this isn’t a single conversation; it happens almost every single day. People asking me how I have built a business with little visible advertising or marketing, and when, quite frankly, Google hates me. It’s curiosity about how on Earth have I done it in an era of funnels and nurture sequences. It’s simple. I know how to have a conversation with someone and work out if what I have is of value to them.

Conversation 2. A client launching a consulting practice who has been shying away from the sales conversations. I laid it out very clearly in a meeting last Monday that his ONLY problem was a top-line problem, and he needed to get comfortable with having the conversations that would convert.

24 hours later he messaged me to tell me he had secured $96,000 worth of work. Yes that’s right, $96,000 locked in, deposits paid.

Conversation 3. A highly experienced professional unable to wrap his head around what his pitch was to be for a meeting coming up with one of his top target clients. In discussion I realised he had made the most fundamental mistake that we can make; he was getting ready to pitch when he didn’t know what and where the challenges for this future client lay. So we talked through framework and as a result he should be able to shift into a very powerful trusted advisor position – rapidly.

And it is ALL in the conversations that we have at each touchpoint; it’s a process you can take as long as you want, or do at lightning speed, but it is critical to your success.

The Fundamentals – Before You Meet With Someone. Actually Anyone.

1. Have your ecosystem established; know what your products and services are, how they are packaged, and priced, and what problem each element solves.

2. Build your arsenal; stories, case studies, thinking, emerging trends etc, which all speak to the problems you solve in the space in which you work.

3. Ensure whatever digital footprint you do have supports the conversations you WANT to have, with the client you want to secure. Spoiler alert – you don’t need a website to start having conversations : )

When You Meet With Someone. In Any Form.

All of my greatest wins – from a $500 consulting job when I first went out on my own 11 years ago, to a contract that grew to $3 million per year – have come from being insatiably curious as I go into any meeting.

Here are the keys:

1. Have a diagnostic conversation framework ready to go. The entire reason for meeting / speaking with the potential client is to understand:

a. If they actually have a challenge

b. If you can add value, bring a solution to that challenge

c. If you were to build a solution, would it be of interest to them

2. Build the conversation deliberately so you can understand the key challenges and gaps, and whether or not you can truly add value. Do this through asking key questions which may include:

a. What is really important for you to achieve in the next twelve months / 1 / 3 years

b. Where do you see the greatest challenge in being able to achieve that

c. What is important to you, personally, about the outcome

d. What difference will it make

e. What have you tried already that worked

f. What have you tried already that didn’t work

g. What’s been unexpectedly challenging

h. What’s been unexpectedly smooth

i. If I could change one thing for you right now about this, what would it be (and why)

(and you should ask me how this one question added $800,000 to our top line in what seemed like a matter of moments!)

3. Then build trust; Talk to your experience, what you have seen, what you have delivered, what the outcomes have been, what you have noticed is happening now and how that can be applied to what you already know, ALWAYS tying the conversation back to what is important to them.

4. Then if rapport is strong, go here, Ask.

a. ‘If I could come up with a strategy/solution/your words that resolved all of this for you, would that be of interest to you?’

b. Talk to what you think could work for them, based on your experience, at a high level

c. ‘If I was to work up a project/proposal/pitch, based on that, would that be of interest to you?’ and get their agreement

d. Leave the meeting committed to having a tailored/custom/bespoke proposal to them to resolve their specific challenge within 48 hours

There are ways to compress or extend this process; to close on the phone; to close in a first meeting; to secure works over a period of time where multiple key stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process.

But the most important thing to remember is you have to get curious before a pitch, and not just about finding where their challenge matches your solution, but where your solution can shift and meld to resolve their challenge.