Once I get in front of a prospect, I can make my case pretty well, but how do I make myself stand out in the approach and introduction?
The traditional copywriter's approach of "AIDA" works quite nicely for consultants. If you look at a well written advertising letter, defined as one you read all the way through, you will see how this works. AIDA stands for:
- Attention: Provide something that assures that they see you as different from all the other demands on their time. This is the purpose of a great headline in an article and a hint of your value proposition. One example is starting a sentence with "Do you ever . . .?" aimed at a problem you know from your research your prospect faces.
- Interest: What is it that will pique the prospect's interest enough to decide to commit a few more minutes really looking at your offer? Is it research data, or maybe the fact that you have just completed a similar project for a competitor? Here is where most consultants lose a prospect by not transitioning from the intellectual to the emotional basis of wanting to see more. Another interest-generating tactic is to stop talking long enough to engage them in the conversation about the issue. Establish your credibility.
- Desire: This is where a prospect begins to see him or herself as receiving and benefiting from the results of your services. You job here is to help the prospect imagine themselves in a world where they have already accomplished what you are proposing. Let them know that their competitors are using this kind of approach, or that there is a limited opportunity (if true) to capture the benefit you are offering.
- Action: Another place where consultants lose a prospect by not closing the sale. Even if you can help a prospect see him or herself in a desired future state, sometimes other constraints block them from pulling the trigger on an engagement. Now is the time to help them overcome inertia and see themselves taking action to get started. This is where you use statements like, "We can get started with the focus group next Thursday" or "I could review your speech to the District managers and add in our latest research."
This works as well in your proposal letters of agreement. Even after you have reached agreement on the scope and terms of an engagement, exerting some more influence is always helpful. This agreement is often the only documentation a client retains from the discussion and having a cogent sequence of AIDA to start the letter will remind your new client why they engaged you. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA