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6 things you should know about every prospect

(MoneyWatch) It's always a big mistake to "show up and throw up" a bunch of slides. That's just asking for trouble, because the prospect will know that you're not really prepared to talk about the prospect's real issues. Therefore, before you present to a prospect, there are six key perspectives that you absolutely MUST have (if you want a fast sale). Here they are:

The prospect's history. Where are they coming from? How did they get here? What do they know about your and your firm? What dealings have taken place in the past?

Frames of reference. What ideologies and situations might affect their decision-making? Do they have a certain way of viewing your offering? How do they feel about their own firm?

Needs and desires. Where do they want to go? How do they expect to feel when they get there? How do they think they're going to get there? What do they think will prevent it?

Likely objections. What is going to cause them to balk? How fervently do the believe in that objection? How real is it? Might it block the deal, no matter what you say or do?

Capacity to act. Are you communicating with decision-makers or seat-warmers? If decision-makers, what decision do you want them to make? If not, why are you talking to them?

Decision-making style. If they're decision-makers, how do they make decisions? Are they all about facts and figures? Or do they decide according to a gut feeling?

Once you understand these six perspectives, you can tailor your conversation or presentation to match what's really going on...rather than what you might otherwise wish were going on.

For example, if you know that your firm contributed to the prospect's success in the past, make sure that each contact knows it, because it may have happened before their time.

Similarly, if the decision-maker likes facts and figures, you build your value proposition around ROI. If he's a gut-feeling guy, use anecdotes and imagery to bring out the emotions.

This post by Geoffrey James originally appeared on BNET.

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