Offering creative new ideas is a great way to get a meeting with a prospect, but your ideas not only have to be good — they have to be good for them. No matter how well you position your idea to them, the concept you walked in the door with may simply not make sense for them. But that’s okay…
The first idea gets you in the door.
The second idea gets you invited back.
I’ve had a lot of practice (decades!) cold-pitching ideas to prospects I just met and I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to adapt my concepts on the fly during the conversation. But sometimes (many times) you learn that no matter how much research you did in advance of your meeting to come up with the idea, you picked the wrong problem to solve.
This situation usually becomes apparent when your prospect starts talking about something completely different during your meeting. You have to be alert enough to sense the shift away from the problem and solution you were discussing and abandon it in favor of the new challenge your prospect is telling you about.
They are essentially saying “Hey, that’s nice you came in to talk about that issue, but it’s really not a priority for me. HOWEVER, this problem over here… I could really use some help with…”
The proposed solution you walked in with may not be adaptable to the new problem, so you want to start thinking about how to position the new idea you bring on your next visit.
Begin by confirming the fact you want to take a few days to seriously consider this new challenge and return with an idea or two to share with them — and schedule your next meeting while you are already in the room.
You don’t want to wait and call back a few days later after you’ve come up with a new concept. Take it for granted you’re going to come up with something amazing and book your next meeting while they are still interested and engaged.
- You don’t want to give them several days to forget about you before you call back for a second appointment
- You now have a firm deadline for creating your proposal (it will keep you from allowing yourself to stretch a couple days into a couple weeks)
Next, you want to nail down the kind of idea/solution they’re looking for.
Mr. Prospect, I come up with some crazy ideas that sometimes need a little shaping and molding for more conservative companies. Do you prefer to hear the original off-the-wall concepts, or would you rather be presented with a more finalized version of the idea and the plan to put it into action?
This question will tell you a lot about how your prospect sees themselves and their company, and how involved they want to be in the creative process.
My experience is that no matter how they answer that question, you should come prepared with both versions of the concept. They may have told you they want to hear your crazy idea, but everything is relative. Crazy for you might be sending a sponsored rocket launch into space, but crazy to them may be buying a web banner.
Finally, ask them what elements would absolutely have to be part of any idea they gave approval to move forward on.
You might suggest certain elements as examples for them to consider:
- Would they want you to handle design work or will they use an internal department or some other vendor?
- Do they want you to share tracking analytics via email or schedule meetings to go over the numbers?
- Is there an existing budget you need to work within, or just bring the best recommended solution and work out changes if needed?
Suggesting two or three potential examples will usually be enough for them to add a caveat or two of their own. Always make sure to address those specific elements in your proposal on your return trip — they’ve told you how important they are!
Now go back to your workspace and start brainstorming ideas that match the profile of the concept they just described — it’s the one they want to buy!