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#652: Prospects May Know More About You Than You Know About Them

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
When meeting with a prospect, how much information should be sent ahead and how much reserved for the meeting? I worry prospects either won't read send-ahead material or may not understand it the way we intend.

Consider the purpose of the meeting with a prospect - to get to know each other and drive toward identification of a mutual beneficial activity. If the meeting is on equal terms (i.e., both of you have something interesting and tangible to gain) then both of you are compelled to investigate the other to have a productive meeting. If you think the prospect is not interested enough to read your send-ahead material, then you have not set up your value well enough. If you believe the prospect might misinterpret the materials, then you have not provided unambiguous, compelling materials. You can fix both of these.

However, you may also be surprised at how much your prospect knows about you even without your send-ahead materials. The Internet makes it possible for a prospect to know a lot about you even before they contact you for an introductory meeting (or, if you initiated the contact, before your first meeting). If you are an independent or small firm consultant or have a public persona (e.g., speaker, author, panelist, expert witness, community contributor), then it is easy for your prospect to assemble a profile of you in less than ten minutes.

Do you know your online brand and information from which your prospect will draw? Like a credit report, there can be lots of incorrect data about you. It may not be malicious, just wrong. I once discovered an online profile of me that an organization to which I was speaking had created - with a lot of interesting facts that weren't even about me, but was still available for all to see. We no longer have full control over our own brand and that prospect you are so eager to see may never ask for send-ahead material because they already decided to not meet with you - all based on your online identity.

Tip: Create a sell sheet or capabilities statement that you post on your own website and ask that others refer/link to it. This gives uniformity and currency to your online identity. It is tempting to be listed in a lot of directories and social networking sites but you are better off just listing what's needed to pique people's interest then get them to your website (even if you need separate landing pages for different referral sources).

© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  brand  client development  learning  market research  marketing  prospect  reputation 

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