How to win a client: building trust with your first impression

The first conversation with a prospective client is possibly the most important one you’ll have.

First impressions of your business mean everything when you’re meeting with an interested party, with the hope of them becoming your client. You need to build trust from the get go and lay a strong foundation, especially as we’re all using a hybrid working approach.

How can you win more clients? And how do you do this in-person AND virtually?

Read on to find out!

What does ‘prospecting’ mean?

The dictionary defines the verb ‘to prospect’ as: “to search for mineral deposits, especially by drilling and excavation”. That perfectly aligns with the word’s connotation in a client context too.

The best way to find the golden nugget of client satisfaction is to make sure that you’re ‘mining’ for a better understanding of why a person or business is interested in working with your team in the first place. For an effective ‘prospecting’ process, it’s essential that your first meeting is a meaningful conversation. You need to uncover the situation and pain of the potential client to understand the impact that your business can deliver.

Connect4 exists to serve meaningful conversations. In the past this could have been a conversation at a networking event or an in-person meeting arranged in advance. In our hybrid working world, this is increasingly done remotely, on a phone or video call (which is great for expanding your business’ geographic reach and reducing travel costs, by the way!).

But how else does hybrid influence the prospecting process?

We recently interviewed our own Head of Sales, Jon Oakley (1). He recommends and implements thoughtful, effective conversations in his daily work talking with Connect4’s potential customers.

From Jon’s experience, the initial conversation with prospects has become increasingly important when working with a hybrid approach. He believes that the playing field for businesses has been levelled and to stand out, you need to build trust with your prospective clients with a client-centric digital approach. Going beyond the video element, Jon uses all of the other meeting features of Connect4 effectively in order to facilitate a hybrid prospecting process and encourage meaningful conversations.

Connect4 gives the consistency needed to deliver great client meetings again and again, online or in-person. It all starts with that prospect meeting though, so let’s show you the best way to structure this meeting and how the Connect4 features can enable an effective client prospecting process.

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Use SPICED for the ideal prospective client meeting

SPICED is a great framework that our Connect4 team uses for our meetings with customers and prospective customers. We really like it and find the structure of this methodology facilitates a great client-centric conversation.

If you want to learn more about SPICED, we highly recommend checking out content from Winning by Design (2). This website offers some great resources for anyone in business looking to achieve sustainable growth by prioritising client or customer success.

Essentially, SPICED is a map of questions you can follow in your prospect meeting to confirm everything you might know about your prospective customer or client.

Below are some examples of questions that we recommend using.

We’ve written these with help from Jon Oakley, so these are in the context of Connect4 and show how Jon approaches prospects. However, you can apply these to your own business really easily and use these questions to lay a strong foundation for building your client and customer relationships.

Situation

“What are you currently using for your online client conversations?”

You need to kick off by confirming a basic overview of your prospective client or customer. Try and confirm their specific circumstances – things like the current solutions they use or the number of people that they serve. If you can display that you have researched your prospect, this is great for building trust and adding meaning to the conversation.

The conversation born from these questions will also relate to the pains that your business can solve for the prospect. Find out why they are generally interested in you – this will help you to ‘qualify’ them. In other words, this will help you to work out if your offering is as good a fit for your prospect as they are for you.

The next step is to move onto the specifics of their frustrations.

Pain

“What do you think your processes look like to your current clients, are you happy with your current process?

Ask specific questions to work out the pain-points for your prospect.

Specific problems, issues or dissatisfaction have lead them your way. You need to confirm what these are so that you can show them the effective solutions that you can offer them. Think of framing this step as asking them, “What gives you a headache?”

Impact

“If you implement our solution, can you see the benefits to your business – like an increase in revenue?”

At this stage of the conversation, it’s important to move from the emotion of discussing pain to the rational decision-making stage.

Here, you need to provide some hard facts. Identify the quantifiable impact that you can provide for your prospect (and their business, if they have one). You should show the net result of implementing or not implementing your solution. This can only be explained by using the examples of an increased revenue of x amount; a decreased cost of x amount; and/or an improved experience for your prospect’s clients/customers.

Critical Event

“So why don’t you trial our product (or service) and I’ll see you online next week to review?”

A critical event has a deadline and a tangible consequence for your prospect. You want to bring this in at this stage to lay the path for the decision.

Ask about a specific event and timeframe in which a prospect must act without incurring additional, quantifiable consequences. E.g. if your question is, “What happens if you don’t achieve x by this date?”, then the answer might be, “The business would lose £x of revenue.”

Decision (Criteria)

Based on the client meetings you have, which Connect4 subscription do you think will work best for your practice?”

You’ve reached the destination of the prospect meeting.

Now your prospect will evaluate your solution and decide whether or not to become your client or customer. The will consider your solution against their criteria – internal systems and politics that might prevent the win. To overcome these, you must have educated the prospect on how your solution will meet each criterion. As the prospect weighs up the options, focus on a clear decisive conclusion to the meeting.

To use an analogy, liken this part of the conversation to the end of a first romantic date. That might sound really weird, but keep with us!

When a date draws to a close, both parties, having put in the time and effort to get to know the other, must decide whether enough sparks are flying to want to pursue another date. You might make this decision transparently – do the same at the end of the prospect meeting! Ask your prospect straight up if they are happy to continue and schedule the next meeting.

How Connect4 enables the ideal prospective client meeting

Now that we’ve recommended the great SPICED framework for your prospective client meetings, let’s explore some more advice from our team. After the past year of working with a hybrid approach, here are some of the features that we think enable initial prospective conversations best. See below how you can use the Connect4 platform to apply SPICED and win more clients.

Safe ‘place or destination’ (a.k.a pod) to meet

Every new prospect will meet you and your team in a pod that is setup for streamlined meetings. The pod is a place for building trust and a lasting client or customer relationship – it’s also a great digital facilitator for the SPICED framework.

Whether you meet your prospect virtually or in-person, your meeting history is all there and available in a safe space to be referenced at any time.

Agenda presented in advance

A meaningful conversation starts with knowing what will be discussed – that starts with an agenda!

Use our agenda feature (3) to lay out all of the discussion points (i.e. your SPICED questions) and share it with your prospective client ahead of time so that they can prepare.

Your prospect will feel like they’re in control of the meeting – they will see that there will be a 2-way conversation, understand what is expected, see the purpose of the meeting and know when it will end. This builds an invaluable foundation of trust for your prospecting process.

Meeting-minute prompt

Our meeting minute feature enables easily transcribed and shared meeting notes. When trying to build trust with a new prospect, recording everything that happens in your meetings kicks off your relationship with transparency.

The prompt feature will also help to move you down your agenda and, thus, through the SPICED framework.

Agreed actions

Our actions feature (4) aligns perfectly with the Decision step of SPICED.

Assigning meeting actions to yourself AND your prospect is a way to prove your accountability from the first meeting as well as continue the qualification process.

Connect4 allows you to assign actions during and post meeting. Use this process of assigning actions with your prospect to compliment the concrete Decision-making: helpfully, one can’t happen without the other. It’s only once your prospective client has agreed to continue the prospecting process that you can put the ‘next steps’ into play.

Post-meeting email workflow

The most important part of prospecting is the through-line and keeping the conversation with your prospect going.

The post-meeting workflow will enable the conversation to continue post-meeting and set the progress in motion. In Connect4, you have to send your meeting attendees a meeting summary email, complete with minutes and assigned actions.

We find that this feature establishes good meeting practices for all, even those who might be reluctant. And good meeting practices result in better, more open relationships.

By the way, as our email function can sync with CRM or PM tools, simply using Connect4 in prospecting helps to create a helpful meeting record. Proof of prospect meetings is really important to document as you analyse the success of your business.

Conclusion: Are you building trust in your initial meetings?

We’ve shared our advice for building trust using a client-centric approach with SPICED. We’ve also shown you how the Connect4 platform enables us to build a great foundation for the initial prospect meeting and beyond.

Would this approach help you build trust in your meetings?

As business takes a hybrid approach, standardising your processes and promoting a customer- or client-centric experience is vital to making your offering stand out from the crowd.

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We’d really enjoy learning about your business’ methodology and how Connect4 can help. Arrange a time to speak with our team here.

Here are the Key Takeaways from this article:

  1. Having a meaningful conversation with a prospective client is the best way to approach your first meeting. This will build their trust!
  2. Use the SPICED (Situation, Pain, Impact, Critical Event, Decision) method to structure your prospect meetings — this is the structure you need to create a meaningful conversation.
  3. Going forward, you need to make sure that your hybrid offering is strong. Your digital client meetings need to be just as powerful as your face-to-face conversations. Using the best client meeting platform, Connect4, to compliment your SPICED conversations will help you to win clients and make a great first impression.

Footnotes

  1. How to have a prospective client meeting: A Connect4 Conversation with Jon Oakley
  2. Winning by Design
  3. ‘Agendas, assemble!’ Your client meeting superhero.
  4. Meeting actions speak louder than words

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Kathryn Bezuidenhout

Kathryn is Connect4’s Digital Marketing Executive. She works on all things content and social media.

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