What should you bring to the first business development meeting? Nothing.

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How much should you bring/present to your first client meeting? Ari Galper suggests this image would not be the way to go. Don’t bring anything.

Sales guru Ari Galper advocates a trust-based business development model, based on the rightful concept that virtually no one wants to be sold anything, especially your preconceived (and in-the-bag) “solutions” to their challenges.

He follows some of the best practices in Internet marketing to sell his owns services, dropping tidbits of useful, actionable insights in free emails. Take, for example this advice that you travel naked — that is, without a briefcase, IPad or any sort of “presentation materials” to your first in-person new client meetings.

Assuming you do meet face-to-face with potential clients and you are invited in for a first meeting, when you walk in to your client’s office or your local coffee shop to meet, what do you usually carry in your hands?

My guess is, you might have a bag or briefcase (ok, a modern looking one) that contains brochures, proposals, a laptop with a presentation on it, or maybe even an Ipad if you’re really cool.

Now, let’s say you’re meeting in their office. When you walk in carrying your bag of “stuff”, what are they immediately thinking in the back of their minds? Probably: “What’s he going to pull out of his bag as he starts selling to us?”

When that thought enters their mind, basically it’s over. You’re now “swimming uphill” to create trust, the burden is on you to perform, and the “dog and pony” show begins.

This is not a good place to start the relationship.

So based on our Trust-Based Mindset of not assuming the sale and diffusing any sales pressure that might exist, here’s what you do.

Instead of walking into your face-to-face meeting with your bag or something in your hands, walk in with NOTHING IN YOUR HANDS.

Yes, I know, shocking.

Really, leave EVERYTHING in your car.

Walk in “naked”, so-to-speak.

At first, this idea might freak you out because your “sales crutch” has always been your presentation or documents sitting in your bag. And you probably even have extra information in case they have a question you can’t answer.

Take a deep breath and relax. Remember, that first meeting is not about pitching your solution, it’s about building trust and understanding their problems.

You see, when you walk in with nothing in your hands, their thinking: “Jeez, where’s his sales stuff?”

When they see you are walking in empty-handed, the conversation can begin without anyone worrying about being “sold”.

Believe me, not only will you feel a sense of relief to begin the meeting this way, SO WILL THEY!

Why? Because they want to get to know you and trust you at this point, not be sold by you (even though that’s their conditioning from years of old-school sales people coming in and making sales pitches).

Ok, I think you get the point,  could seriously keep going on this one (and I told myself to keep this lesson short!), but let’s leave it at that – I think you get the main point I’m trying to make.

When you get centred in your ability to engage your prospective clients based on their ISSUES rather than your solutions, you move closer to becoming a trust-based selling master.

This is an intriguing thought. I’ve always felt a need for a crutch for that first vital meeting, my laptop, though I’ll agree with Galper that opening it and ramming through thoughts relating to how we can match our services to the client misses the point.  Maybe instead we really should really understand the potential client’s needs, values and constraints first.

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