Top 5 ways to get that all important first date

Cold calling a prospective new client is petrifying. It’s like phoning someone you hardly know and asking them out. Yet there are better ways to getting a ‘date’ with a prospect than resorting to that awful phone call. Here’s how to do it.

I still have nightmares about phoning girls and asking them out. Why? Because, if they said ‘no’ (which sadly was not infrequent), it was back to therapy for me!

We all fear rejection. And in business, it’s simply not easy to ask someone you don’t know to meet with you, when you both know you are (all bullshit aside) after but one thing- their money!

Yet to drive new revenue and indeed careers, being great at nailing that first critical meeting with prospects is a powerful asset.

Here are five of the best tips I know to get that first all important meeting with a prospect without always having to make that hand trembling phone call.

Top Five Tips To Getting That First Meeting

1. Get Introduced: the most powerful way to get access. Someone outside your firm who knows the prospect calls them: “Samantha- you’ll get a call from Chris. His team has delivered outstanding value for me over many years. They have an idea they feel will be of real value to you. When he calls, give him a 20 minute meeting. You won’t regret it.” Next day- Tring tring…“Hi, my name is Chris from Agency X… Oh, you will see me! But I haven’t even told you… What’s that? Tuesday at 8.30 am? Absolutely! We’ll be there. Thanks.” Clink.

2. Get Noticed: send them an intriguing package. Not an email. When a package lands on my desk, my heart beats faster. I excitedly poke it, shake it, then open it immediately. Once it was a CV in a box with an egg (raw, in its shell) stuck on the front. I never put anything on top of that CV and it sat very visible on my desk. When the candidate called, she got the meeting. Once I was sent half a $2 note (long time ago): “If you agree to meet, I’ll give you the other half of the note, and you will already have profited from our relationship.” Send them something memorable, intriguing, fun. Sounds trite? Maybe- but it works. It works to get a meeting with me, and it has absolutely worked to get my teams meetings with highly desirable prospects.

3. Go To Where They Will Be: find out what industry associations they are part of, where the events are, where they are making a speech. Turn up. Approach them at the break. “I came here today because I specifically wanted to meet you… ” They’ll be flattered. Impressed. And when you then ask for a meeting to share an idea which will solve their burning issue, of course they’ll say ‘yes.’ People love a bit of chutzpah, and saying ‘no’ to your face is not easy!

4. Get Them To A High Value Event: set up a ‘closed door’ exclusive forum with a big draw card speaker. In your invitation, mention the calibre of others who will attend. They’ll come, have a great time, be impressed, feel you deserve a favour in return, and when you ask for that meeting- YES!

5. PICK UP THE PHONE: and, yes, have courage. Sometimes, there is no better way than making that call. Plan what you will say. Have your messages ready. Ensure ‘what’s in it for them’ is clear, quickly. Take a deep breath. Dial that number. (And keep your sense of humour handy for the occasional ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’)

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9 Responses to Top 5 ways to get that all important first date

  1. Kamal October 5, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Loved the post
    The package idea is fantastic!
    Who can resist a surprise?
    Thanks for posting

  2. Anne Miles October 5, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Love this Chris. I also feel that having a clear idea of who you are and what your value is to the client is a major key. If you don’t know this and truly believe it you feel like you are ‘hard sell’ but if you genuinely can see that you can help you are ‘helping by informing’.

    Unfortunately a lot of creative businesses are positioned exactly the same as the other agency – so there is no perceivable value. Now that’s a difficult call to make.

    • Chris Savage October 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks Anne. That’s so true. Differentiating ourselves is so important. Chris

  3. Sue Meehan - The White Agency Melbourne October 5, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks Chris.

    It’s a nice reminder that no matter what your experience in this field, most of us don’t enjoy cold calling.

    I try to remind myself it’s just a numbers game and not to place too much emotional connection in the “thanks, but no thanks” response.

    Sue Meehan
    The White Agency

    • Chris Savage October 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks Sue. It is a numbers game. The more work we can do on what the prospects’ hot buttons are….what the issues are and how we can help…the more chance we have of the numbers falling our way. Thanks again. Chris

  4. Margaret La October 5, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Hi Chris

    Thanks for another useful, light and entertaining post.

    I do have a question about Idea #1: how do you go about getting your ‘referee’ to pick up the phone to make that call? A personal testimonial is always powerful, but what’s in it for them to take a few minutes out of their busy day to call your prospect for you?

    Though I have to admit, I’ve never asked my clients to do that for me. So maybe it’s not as hard as it appears; but I would feel I owe them a favour for doing it! Would love to hear some of your ideas…

    • Chris Savage October 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

      Margaret- thanks for the question and it reminded me of a very important point I forgot to make. You can’t ask an existing client to make this call UNLESS you have delivered real and great value to that client. In other words, if you are proven and have a relationship where you have delivered, then you can ask for the favour and then that client will happily do it. But if you ask too early- when you have not earned the right to ask for a favour- then the client will feel you are being self-oriented and greedy and it backfires. So it is a judgement call- when you have become a trusted advisor to a client, and have developed an intimate relationship, then you have the opportunity to respectfully ask for their help. That’s my experience of this anyway. Thanks again for the question. Chris

  5. Geoff Ingall October 5, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    Chris, you are quite right, cold-calling can be daunting. That’s why so few do it. That’s why those who do tend to succeed.

  6. Justin Di Lollo October 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    Thanks Chris

    I’m wearing out my vocal chords saying “don’t send an email to people you want to get work from – pick up the phone and make yourself stand out”.

    That and the other tips above should be chanted as a mantra by us all each morning!

    Of course, calling can involve ‘swallowing a frog’, so it’s best done first thing…

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