Here are tips for information technology professionals to meet with prospects without being seen as an annoying salesperson:
1. Don't make cold calls. An unsolicited phone call is easiest tip-off to a prospect that you are a salesperson. How do you react when strangers call you by phone? Instead, develop an information- and trust-based marketing plan that influences prospects to CALL YOU. You do this by offering educational, valuable information that helps your target market address key problems and opportunities related to your area of expertise. You offer this information in any number of ways: seminars, your web site, newsletters, audio programs, videos, articles, and publications.
2. Only give your business card to a prospect if asked. Otherwise, you will be perceived as somebody with something to sell.
3. For business prospects, do research prior to any meeting. Learn everything you can about prospect's organization and situation.
4. Consider getting videotaped to see how you really come across in meetings. I have videotaped a number of IT professionals in mock prospect meetings, and experience is almost always illuminating!
5. Make sure that during meetings with prospects, 75% of your sentences are questions. Ask questions to understand prospect's situation, what it is costing him or her, how long they have had problem, what else they have tried, what will happen if they don't do anything, and numerous other questions to help you thoroughly understand issues.
6. Listen closely, with your undivided attention. Turn off your cell phone and pager, and eliminate any interruptions. Otherwise, you give your prospect impression that they are not important now, and will not be important if they hire you.
7. Try to adapt your style to prospect's style in order to build rapport and make them feel comfortable. Sense their mood, how fast or slow they talk, whether they focus on business or technical issues, and their body language.
8. Make eye contact. Don't look down, or at other things in room.
9. Empathize by stepping into prospect's shoes. Nothing is more powerful than to be able to reflect back prospect's frustration with his or her problem. Similarly, instead of saying, "Here is what you should do…." say, "If I were in your shoes, I would…"
10. Focus on specific business results, not technology. Your prospect wants a result that will help his or her situation. Technology is a means to that end. If you focus on result prospect wants to achieve, then you can have an open and honest discussion about whether you can get that result.
11. Do not make prospect feel stupid. For instance, if client is not tech-savvy, don't use jargon. One client of mine developed an IT glossary to give to prospects, which was a great way to make them feel comfortable.
12. Once you understand client's situation, offer your experience of problem, suggest solutions, and show how you have helped others in similar situations before. Try to create a sense of urgency by explaining what it will cost client if they don't act quickly. Do all of this in a way that educates and informs client, without any gimmicks or tricks.