Stu’s News
with Trina’s Tips



Observing where many firms place their marketing energy and dollars, huge commitments seem to rest at the finish line … proposals and presentations.  Yet, the greatest success typically comes from efforts invested prior to that time … the “pre-proposal” or “pre-presentation” times.

To begin, that first Mandeville meeting is essential. You break the ice. You identify that client’s key goals and concerns. You identify others on the client side who influence the hiring decision. You build a professional-client comfort.  And … you create an opportunity for additional meetings.

Once you’ve identified what your client sees as the biggest concern, you’ll need to create an algorithm for solving it … a step-by-step process you’ll use, once you’re hired, to solve that concern. In your presentations and proposals, you’ll also give your approach a name, list its benefits in detail, and describe past applications … citing successful outcomes. That “packaging” isn’t needed during this phase.

Arrange a follow-up meeting with your client to share your “draft” approach to the client’s biggest concern. You shouldn’t need more than 20 to 30 minutes, so your meeting time is readily scheduled. In your meeting …

First, share your perception of the concern – inviting feedback, in case you may have misread some aspect of the concern.

Second, share your process for solving that concern – answering questions as you go, for ensuring client understanding.

Third, ask for candid feedback … “How does this strategy for solving your concern feel to you?” The feedback helps you fine-tune your approach, when you include it in your proposal and presentation.

And fourth, identify another expressed concern, and suggest another brief meeting, in order for you to share an approach for solving that concern.

Why not create share response to several concerns
in just one follow-up meeting?

You might save considerable travel time.

And available time may be short.

But your impact is less.

The idea is to create a sequence of brief meetings.  In each meeting, you ensure your understanding of that client’s concern. You provide information your client will find helpful for solving some major concern. Your feedback helps you refine your approach, increasing client acceptance of your ideas.  And your client feels part of the process for solving project issues.

Each meeting provides a nugget of help for your client.

By repetition, your client begins to expect that when you meet, you’ll consistently provide something helpful.  That’s known as …

A helping habit.

Think about professionals you engage for help … your physician, dentist, attorney, or accountant. In one or two initial meetings, you feel no special bond or commitment.  But – after multiple meetings, often over years, you become dependent on that person for help.

It’s a “legitimate professional-client dependency.”

If my mouth hurts, I don’t want to interview five dentists; I want to call “my dentist” and get help. You undoubtedly have long-term clients who call upon you whenever they need help. It’s comforting to have someone on whom you can depend, whenever the need arises.

If your client represents a government agency or municipality or corporation, the phenomenon still exists … even if they have spread-the-work policy and only hire after a competitive selection process.

Many firms seem so focused on maximizing utilization rates on existing projects, they’re averse to committing time and dollars where it doesn’t seem as essential as the finales … proposals and presentations.  And to be competitive, firms even engage special consultants to ensure their proposals and presentations are “top drawer.”  However …

If the client doesn’t know you, your polished presentation, with beautifully designed visual aids, it can feel that it’s too slick, which can hurt your credibility.  However …

If the client does know you, and expects to be helped whenever you walk in the room, then it feels as though they’re interviewing four “professionals” and then “their doctor” walks into the room!

Clients may even hire you, then share ideas others have given them in their proposals and presentations – so they end up with everyone’s best ideas and the person on whom they’re depending.

The technical term for this phenomenon is “Operant Conditioning.”  The marketer’s term is often “Wiring the Job” or “Positioning.”  In its essence, however, it’s simply the most comfortable and most reliable way to win clients and their projects.