I frequently refer resources to our clients and prospects. When they’re facing issues we can’t help with, we introduce them to others.
It was on one such occasion that I set up a conference call involving our client, myself, and the president of another firm I intended to introduce to the client. That firm provides marketing and communication services.
We began the call. I introduced the parties, leaving the other firm’s president to the last. So I said, “Bob, I’d like to introduce Sam. I’ve known Sam for several years. He’s worked for several of our clients. His results have been strong. When you said that you wanted to achieve X, Y, and Z, I thought of Sam because his firm has helped other banks achieve those same results. I thought, through today’s conversation, the two of you might chat a little and see whether further conversation makes sense.”
You know, I thought that was a pretty good set up.
And THEN I said, “So, Sam, maybe you could begin by sharing just a little about your firm and the results you’ve helped some comparable companies produce, and then we can open it up for dialog. How does that sound?”
“Fine,” he said………….
TWENTY FIVE MINUTES LATER … he was still talking. Non-stop. About this approach, and that approach, and this guy who works for him and that guy who works for him, about this client and that client, about this pitfall and that pitfall, and about how they start engagements with clients by asking a lot of questions and really getting to know the client.
Questions? I could not get a word in edgewise. He was like Kenny G and other sax players who’ve learned how to keep playing without a break in sound while they breathe. Non-STOP!
The client listened, quiet for the most part, interrupting two or three times to ask brief clarifying questions.
I was beside myself. I wrote in B I G L E T T E R S on my note pad: “Not one question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Not even, “Hey, ya still breathing?” somewhere in the middle. I was be-freaking-side myself.
Here is the amazing part. My client seemed delighted! When Sam finally took a breath, I interrupted and asked, “Bob, how are we doing here? Are you getting what you need from the conversation?”
“Yes,” he replied, “this is great.” I could hear Sam beaming. Yah, good dog!
It’s possible that Sam read Bob perfectly and did what was exactly right in the situation. I, however, am going with the “Even a blind pig finds a mushroom” theory.
Sam got lucky. His blab matched up with Bob’s listen.
So… When you’re asked to introduce YOUR company, take a breath once in a while, at least to ask, “How’s this going so far?”
A good format for a brief “conversation starter” company introduction might sound something like:
“I work for <company name>. Our clients are <brief description of clients, e.g. company owners>. The challenges they face include <challenges>. We help them by <brief description of services provided>. As a result they (brief description of typical results achieved>. For example <tell a story about one client>. A question for you: What are the most critical challenges you’re facing right now?”
Three minutes, not twenty five, to start.