When you offer to introduce me to Jack (below), I owe you. When Jack meets with me primarily at your request, you owe Jack. We’ve created two debts. If I do this the right way, Jack will thank you for introducing me, and he’ll owe you. We have to do this before ever speaking to Jack.
When a referral source offers to arrange a meeting with someone she knows well, thank her for the offer, and ask how she thinks you can help that person. Ask your Source why he believes the referred contact will welcome the meeting and benefit from the meeting itself—not from the great work you’ll eventually do for them, if hired. The Source's answer should identify the problem that the prospect will acknowledge having. It may prove to be the agenda for your meeting, or not, but it’s definitely the foundation of any worthwhile introduction.
To illustrate, let’s say that our client, Janice Brown, wants to introduce us to a friend and colleague. Here’s how that exchange might proceed, and what we’ll have accomplished by doing it in this thoughtful way:
There's no need to do anything blindly. Your referral source wants this to work. She just doesn't know how to cover all the bases. You have to help by knowing what questions to ask to make both of you look good to the person referred.
Here’s the conversation that should take place during the introductory call to Jack:
When you speak with Jack, don’t forget the lesson you just learned. Don’t assume that the securities issue is still Jack’s action imperative. His environment is particularly dynamic right now. Always reconfirm. By the time you meet, the securities problem may have been eclipsed by something else. If so, be prepared to abandon it in favor of whatever is most pressing then.
Whatever issue commands the agenda, learn the hard deadline for solution, and lead Jack through a dialog that results in him quantifying the economic importance of the problem. This not only reconfirms its priority, but also establishes a very high ROI for the cost:value relationship for your legal fees. By doing so, you get Jack to do something really important for you: position your solution as a return on investment rather than a cost.
Sales Investigation Meeting
You may remember from my last post [link] that Jack has agreed to discuss his securities issue in depth. Following brief pleasantries (remember that Janice told us Jack was a to-the-point guy) the conversation during the investigation meeting might resemble the following and provide the following effects:
At this point Jack has proved to both of you that he must do something. Therefore, this is a legitimate sales opportunity. You facilitated Jack recognizing and acknowledging an action imperative based on the actual or projected consequences of the problem. Clarity has real value, and the higher up the executive chain, the more value it has.
You accomplished your original purpose: You made Janice look good to Jack, and you have Jack thanking you for the meeting instead of the other way around.
You also enabled continuity, i.e., there is a basis for asking Jack, “What do you see as sensible next steps?” which usually leads to explicit buying behavior, and “When does it make sense for us to reconnect?” which solves your continuity problem.