Friday, May 18, 2007

A prospect makes up his mind

Usually I'm selling things, but today I bought something. It was time to get a new accountant, and I had to choose between two. What were the reasons I chose the one I did? Here are my impressions as a prospect of each one.

Accountant A:

  • recommended by a friend
  • had reasonable fees
  • had a very nice, funny (middle-aged) receptionist
  • at our meeting, took out a pad of paper and began sketching out ideas and discussing them as we talked
  • was dressed like me (polo shirt and khakis)
  • spoke as if he knew what he was talking about
  • talked to me as a peer
  • was the first one I met with
Accountant B:
  • recommended by a friend
  • had reasonable fees
  • at our meeting, asked me a lot of questions about my business
  • wore a suit
  • asked me to explain my typical customer engagement
  • talked to me as a peer
  • was the second one I met with
Can you guess that I chose Accountant A? When you look at my impressions of each one, there's lots of similarity. I think I would have been well served by either. At the end of the day, him taking out the pad of paper and working the solution with me interactively was probably the clincher.

Of course, I can't dismiss the fact that Accountant A had already set my mind in motion, so it's distinctly possible I didn't give Accountant B a fair chance. He might have been ready to pull out the pad of paper just as I stood up to leave.

The lessons for us sales types:
  • buying decisions are emotional
  • prospects aren't fair
  • it's better to go first and set the ground rules for the competition
  • prospects may make up their mind on the littlest things--be completely aware of how you come across
And an engaging receptionist is worth her weight in gold.