So what’s a trap door question, you’re asking yourself.
This occurs at the start of a meeting with a new person in a new client.
They may well be a little uncomfortable and unsure as to how to start the meeting.
They say something like …
“Tell us a bit about yourselves”
or ”Tell us about your company and what it does”
or they may say “Could you give us an overview of your company and it’s services” .
Warning ! Warning! Sounds of Claxons … Lights Flashing …
You are standing on the trap door!!
There are four things you can say in reply to this question.
Tactics 1 and 2 : Open the trap door (and you fall down the hole)
Tactics 3 and 4 : Nail it shut
This is where you crack your knuckles ,which may have been dragging on the floor, rotate your head on your neck to prepare. Then you deliver a blistering 30 minute corporate pitch that your colleagues and peers would stand on chairs to applaud.
To be greeted in this case with silence and sounds of shuffling feet and papers.
You may even detect tumbleweed and a chill wind blowing through the room
This is where your days of preparation are about to pay off.
You deliver a pitch that absolutely nails exactly what you and your consultants think the clients need in terms of services and products.
You have prepared well and decided exactly what they need and now is the time to tell them.
They gave you a chance and you took it….
Just so you know … in our training we rather unflatteringly call this the “product vomit”
From the bottom of the pit of despond a few days later when you are not chosen to take part in further discussions… You may realise at the time that either of the above answers were WRONG.
They were not wrong from a factual or presentation style or demonstrating that the client was important enough for you to prepare. They are just WRONG from a timing point of view.
The client is looking for someone who listens to their needs and understands their goals.
Someone who develops rapport with them. Someone to trust.
Not some crazed salesperson who just wants to sell them something after just walking through the door.
When you stare up from the bottom of the pit of despond you can reassure yourself in one way… As you look around the walls of the pit you’ll see ALL of our initials there. We’ve all been there , done it and lived to regret it .
This is where you have really prepared…
Woodrow Wilson was famously quoted as saying
” If I am to speak for 10 minutes I need a week of preparation.
If it’s 15 minutes I need 3 days
If it’s an hour I’m ready now”
What you need in your repertoire is what lots of people call their “Elevator pitch”.
The idea is that it last as long as an elevator takes from the ground floor to the penthouse.
In it you say who you work with , what things you do for / with them and have an example of the benefits you deliver, that are relevant to the client in front of you.
It should take you no more than 2 minutes… It will probably take you a few days to craft one if you haven’t done one before.
The final recommendation is that you ask a question rather than answer the one asked of you.
Try this one. ” What would you like to know about us?” And now shut up.
If the answer that comes back is still a little general then probe again.
” Just so I really understand it , I wonder if you could say a little more about why you’re interested in hearing about that”.
Keep going until you’ve got a really good idea as what your new client really wants to hear about.
As you pass the Pit of Despond on your way to the Heights of Success give a thought to the people down there.
You were there once.