️Episode 008 – Game Plan for the 1st Call With a Prospect

So you’ve booked the first call with your ideal client, now what? You want to ensure that the call is as effective as possible, and to do so you need a crystal clear and specific gameplan. 

Fortunately, creating a strong gameplan doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated. It’s as simple as identifying and avoiding the common mistakes made on the first call with your ideal prospective client and implementing my 5-part formula for making the first call with your ideal prospective client productive and easy.

In this episode, I’m going to share a formula you can use to be successful in the first call with your ideal prospective client, to engage at a higher level.

No need to take notes, grab the free cheat sheet with the exact structure to use as you’re going preparing for the first call with your prospects.

In this episode, we discuss… 

The four most common mistakes when on your 1st call with an ideal prospective client

  • [02:47] Mistake #1
  • [04:25] Mistake #2
  • [05:26] Mistake #3
  • [05:50] Mistake #4

The 5-part formula to make the 1st call with an ideal prospective client effective

  • [08:26] Part #1
  • [11:23] Part #2
  • [13:01] Part #3
  • [14:31] Part #4
  • [17:49] Part #5



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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too.


Listen on to find out how. Welcome back to episode number eight. Today, we’re talking about your GamePlan for that first meeting with your ideal prospect. So where we last left off last week where you booked the call that first call with your ideal prospect using the strategies I shared with you. That was episode number seven. And now that you’ve got the call, what should you say in order to make this call productive, both for you and for that prospect, and start to move your sales process forward. That’s what we’re going to be focusing on today. It’s kind of like a first date, right? I haven’t been on a first date in a really long time. So maybe I’m speaking out of turn here. But I can only imagine it’s a little bit awkward, right, you’re meeting someone for the first time, you are starting to get to know them as a person, as a person who’s in the role that they have in the company that they’re working in. And so is a little bit awkward to get that off the ground. And so today, I want to share with you a game plan so that you can make that call very productive again, both for yourself and for that other person. And so that you avoid some of the pitfalls that I see a lot of ice making when they’re in this first call, especially, although I will tell you this game plan will work for really any business of element type call that you’ve got on your books. So we’ll start off today with the four biggest mistakes I commonly see when independent consultants are in that first call with a prospect, just a level set on what you don’t want to do. And then I’m going to walk you through the five-part formula that you’ll want to implement, you can use it as a structure for your first call, so that you avoid those mistakes and make that call effective and quite frankly, easy for yourself. Not so awkward. And one thing I’ll tell you is I’m going to give you a lot today of strategies. So no need to furiously take notes, as I talk, I’ve created a cheat sheet for you, there will be a link in the show notes. So you could download that. So just sit back and listen to what I have to say. And then you can download, and load that cheat sheet. So you have the exact structure that you need, as you’re going into these calls with your prospects. Okay with that, let’s dive into the four biggest mistakes. Number one, you could be in an employee mindset as you’re going into these calls. And what I mean by that is you’re thinking of them as hierarchical. We’re so ingrained in corporate to think about people in terms of where they sit in the organization, what their title is, what their level of authority is, and what their position is in the org chart. And as a result of that, what I find is that a lot of times I cs go into calls, thinking about that person they’re meeting with as either more important than them because they perceive them as higher in an org chart than what they would be if they were in an org chart as an IC, you’re not in an org chart. But if you were in an org chart, going in thinking about that person you’re meeting with is somehow more important. And then it makes you feel so much pressure, right. Another mistake that I see in the same bucket here about employee mindset is also thinking about the person is not as important for those same reasons. So if you perceive them as being lower than you in the totem pole, if you will, the corporate totem pole, then that also influences the way that you show up in these meetings. So think about that as one of the mistakes as we move forward here. And I’ll dive into more on how to avoid that. But it is something that can create really a disconnection really early on in the relationship with that prospect because of thinking from an employee mindset perspective, and that org chart. The number two mistake is not being yourself. I see this so often. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which is kind of weird to use this example because I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen that. I have seen the movie. It’s just been a long time. But hopefully, you get the concept. You know, you go through your day, being so confident and really adept at delivering your consulting work, and then you flip over and kind of feel like you have to put on this sales hat and become a completely different it’s a very common Biggest mistake is that people become a very different person when they think they’re in, quote-unquote, sales mode. And it causes them to seize up or just really act weird in a way because they think they need to be a salesperson like some different version of themselves. So that’s mistake number two. And again, I’m going to share with you the formula to overcome these mistakes. But I just want to make sure that you see what these traps could be first, the third biggest mistake is going into was, you know, what we commonly refer to as sales mode, thinking that somehow you need to give like this amazing elevator pitch and wow them into needing what you do. And you kind of throw everything out there and hope it lands. And also kind of thinking about this as like I have one shot at Better make account creates so much pressure, right. And the fourth biggest mistake that I see is that I see is go into these calls with their prospects not really clear on what the very specific outcome is that they want to achieve. They go in with the idea Well, number one, I hope they like me, and I’ll figure this out as I go. So really very, very loose in their methodology here. And they’re in their sales methodology, and not really knowing where they want to lead this process. So that’s number one. And on the flip side of that, it can be very easy to become very tied to the outcome and try to force a right round peg into a square hole. So those are two kinds of extreme versions of not being clear on the specific outcome and knowing that you’re, you’re not trying to land the deal in that first call, you’re starting a dialogue that creates a process that then you want to move forward. And I’ll describe that in more detail here as we go. So those are the four biggest mistakes that I see as independent consultants are starting to engage in a dialogue with their new prospects. Can you recognize any of these mistakes, maybe you’ve had meetings, and some of this has gone on. Or maybe you haven’t had meetings yet. So I want to help you avoid those mistakes. So now that you know what the mistakes are, let’s dive into what that five-part formula would be that you can lean on to make this first meeting really effective. And again, quite frankly, you can really use this in any type of sales meeting. But it’s really powerful for the first especially. So I’m going to just share with you the five parts, and then I’ll break each one of them down in more detail after I get through the giving you the outline here. So the five parts are number one, set your outcome goal for the meeting. Number two, drop your employee thinking. Number three, purposefully Be yourself. And I’ll tell you what that means. It might sound kind of strange, but we want to be ourselves. Number four, get into what I call productive emotions. And then number five, know what those two to three possible neck next steps are that you might recommend. You might not end up recommending any of those, but we want to have a few in our belt, under our belts, in our toolbox, whatever the word might be. Okay, so let’s dive into the first part that I just shared with you. If you want this as a cheat sheet, there’s a link in the show notes. Okay, so number one, set your outcome goal for the meeting. And there are some dos and don’ts here. Number one, don’t tie yourself to a specific outcome, because you don’t actually know what they care about yet. If you go in there with a very strong agenda about how you want to come out of the meeting, you’re going to miss the point of the dialogue, understanding what that prospect cares about. So don’t go in there trying to talk them into something specific. What you’re going to want to do when you’re setting this outcome goal for the meeting is going in with the simple plan that you’re going to add value. And you can use one of the strategies that I shared with you in episode number seven for that, or simply provide kind of a neutral sounding board for them to discuss what their goals and their challenges are. That in itself can be incredibly valued, and bold to have someone they feel that you’re trustworthy to talk to about challenges that they’re having that either people internally might not understand, or that it’s not as safe for them to be discussing some of these challenges with their peers or even their boss in some cases. So go in with that plan of how you’re going to add value as an outcome for the meeting. And listen, I can’t emphasize this enough. If you can go into this call with 80% listening, they’re talking 80% of the time and you’re talking 20% of the time. It can be very, very useful for them, and they will want to continue this dialogue with you. If you’re there, pitching them, telling them all the things, it can be really off-putting, and you don’t even know what all the things are because you haven’t now actually asked them yet. So with this in mind, think about what some of these outcomes could be for you want to go in, you want to add value. Some examples could be that simply you want to walk away with, a clear understanding of what their challenges are and the areas that you could help. Or do you want to walk away with an understanding of why they haven’t fixed those challenges yet, probably and you want to walk away with understanding why they haven’t fixed those challenges yet, what are the challenges? Why haven’t they fixed them? How could fixing the challenges, make a difference for them, and then agree to the next steps for continuing the conversation? And I’ll give you more on that as the fifth part of the formula about what you want to walk away with. But at the heart of this, the goal of the meeting is to add value to them by asking questions and listening. And if you can get your arms around that, then you’re going to be in a really good space to have a productive call with them that is valuable to them. And they will want to continue that dialogue with you. Okay, number two. So we just talked about what that outcome would be for the meeting at a high level. Now we want to make sure that we’re going into this in the right frame of mind. And that starts with dropping the employee thinking that we were talking about earlier. So again, we were trained to incorporate all of our lives, right to really understand and be conscious of and behave accordingly, based on where we are in the hierarchy, where we are in the org chart. And even if we don’t like this structure, that hierarchy is always around. We’ve been accustomed to having been incorporated at some point, governing what you know, what you’re allowed to think or what you’re allowed to say, how bold you can be, or what the etiquette could even be such an ingrained part of that culture, right. And so subtly, or a lot of times not so subtly influences how we show up. So the key to this second part of the formula is to really get into the mode of thinking about the person that you’re meeting as a peer. And it doesn’t matter if, in the past, you’ve had a title, below them or above them, you’re not in that corporate hierarchy. And if you go into this meeting, thinking about it as if you were in the corporate hierarchy, you’re not going to be able to be as effective, because it does come up, it will influence the way that you’re interacting with them, you know, either subtly or not so subtly, right. So think about it from that perspective and put it in, you know, put it in your mind really purposefully that you’re a peer of that individual who that you’re meeting with. Okay, the third part of the formula along those same lines is purposefully Be yourself. Don’t fall into that trap that I described earlier, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I don’t even know which one is the villain. But don’t all of a sudden become a different person, like you’ve got your salesperson out on it, all of a sudden, you’re not yourself, you’re not that consultant that you’re so good at being right. And so what I mean by be yourself or purposefully be yourself is to go in with that consultant’s frame of mind, you’ve probably heard of the consultative sales formula methodology. So one of the most popular sales methodologies out there. And it has the word consultative in it for a reason, right? It’s about asking really good questions and understanding what your prospect cares about why they care about it, and what kind of urgency they have. So that’s great news. It’s called consultative sales. You’re a consultant. So you already know how to do this. So keep that version of yourself going. So that you can ask those really great questions, which is what you naturally do as a consultant. Now, if you need some help with what these questions might be, in a generic sense, what I’ve done is included those in that cheat sheet. So it gives you an idea of what types of questions you could be asking to get this dialogue going with your prospect. Okay, number five, I’m sorry, number four, we’re only on number four. Get yourself into productive emotions. Emotions are not talked about very often. They’re commonly overlooked. For a long time. I didn’t want to talk about emotions either. I’m a rancher’s daughter, we don’t talk about emotions. And you might not be a rancher’s daughter, but you might not talk about emotions either. It’s just not something we do in business, right? But I’m telling you, this is a very important part of the formula. So we’re going to go When we’re going to talk about it, here’s what I’m going to say. We often think that emotions happen to us, like, we’re just going to naturally feel self-doubt, we’re naturally going to feel awkward. Either because of the situation, it’s the first call, I don’t know this person very well yet, or I feel like they’re going to think I need something from them, or I’m going to ask them for something, all the thoughts we have about that first call. Or we also think that those feelings happen to us automatically because of our personality. Like go, I’m just an introvert, this is really hard. For me, it’s awkward. But I’m here to tell you that you are not feeling those read those ways, because of the circumstance, because of the first call, or because of your personality, is because of how you’re thinking about the meeting. It’s because of how you’re thinking about the person you’re meeting. Those emotions are coming from, how you’re thinking about yourself in the meeting. And so the good news is you get to choose what those thoughts are on purpose. So you can create the feelings that you want on purpose. Now, this is a much bigger topic, I will say, especially than we have time for today. But I’m just going to simplify this very clearly for you in the context of this first meeting. So I’ll just give you the bottom line here. And again, it’ll be in that cheat sheet. But number one, you can’t know that you can direct your emotions, they’re not just coming at you, because of the circumstance that you’re in. Know that your emotions are going to impact how you show up in the meeting, are you going to come in confidently and ask great questions and really make a connection with that prospect, or you’re going to come in more hesitant and awkward because of the thoughts you’re having about yourself. So the key here is to intentionally get into that most productive emotion for this scenario for the meeting, what I find works very well in this kind of situation is just getting myself into curiosity, or into feeling valuable. And really purposefully having one of those emotions that can create such good questions versus going in feeling pressured. So to get into that productive emotion, which is this fourth part of the formula, just really intentionally think about yourself and the other person you’re meeting with, and the meeting itself in a way that creates this detached curiosity, or whatever it is that you want to feel, what would you need to be thinking in order to feel curiosity versus pressure? Something like, you know, I’m really curious to figure out what this person’s challenges could be, versus, Oh, I better make this count. It’s could be as simple as that. So that’s the fourth part of the formula. And then finally, the fifth part of the formula is just having your back pocket. That’s what I was trying to say earlier, the back pocket, have in your back pocket, what those two to three possible next steps you might recommend. It’s knowing what you might propose as the next step. You don’t want to go in with one next step, one of them because it’s going to block you from listening. But at the same time, you do want to know what’s going to be an effective outcome of this meeting so that you can get them to agree to the next conversation. So we’ve got to strike a balance here. And so what I recommend doing is brainstorming several possible next steps that you could have at the ready. And then you’ll kind of know where you’re guiding the conversation, you know, where you’re guiding what questions you’re asking. And it may go in a direction that you’re not you hadn’t anticipated any problem. You may not even use one of these two or three possible next steps. But at least you’ll have them as a backup number one. Number two, you may not use those exact possible next steps, but you may want to use something similar based on where the conversation went. So it really gets your mind to the point where you’re thinking about what is that next step I’m going to recommend, and knowing that you can’t walk away from this call without figuring that out as a game plan with that person that you’ve been meeting with. So just have that as a structure for yourself so that you can rely on it, you can adjust it, or you just know that you need to create the next step and think of something on the fly. So now you’ve got this FIRST CALL game plan. You can see what those common four mistakes are that I shared with you. You’ve got this five-part formula that you can make use of to make this FIRST CALL effective, and even fun, easy, gives you the framework, and go download that cheat sheet that I shared with you. It’s at Melisaliberman.com/gameplan. The link is in the show notes. You’ll have literally everything you need to prepare for that first call and potentially other calls as well, like I said, it works so well to get you in the right frame of mind regardless of what kind of call you’re having with your prospect. So hopefully that gives you some really the covers strategies for you to execute an effective call with your prospect and start moving this business development process along, filling your pipeline with amazing ideal clients. And I look forward to talking with you again next week. We’ll be back here on Thursday, talking about another important part of the process for independent consultants building your business. So I look forward to talking with you again, then. Have a great week.


Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you like today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it beneficial and finally put the ideas from today’s episode into action. Head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

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