How will you make this work, Sunil?

That’s how my prospect responded when I asked his whereabouts!

We were scheduled for an appointment and I was right outside this person’s office in New Delhi. I walked into the building, asked the receptionist to convey (to the contact) that Mr. Nair has arrived. She danced her finger on the keyboard and unemotionally blurted “that name doesn’t exist in our systems.”

“What? Wait a second.” I didn’t have the contact’s phone number handy, so, email was the only option. And here’s how it went:

Me: “Mr. Prospect. I’m waiting in the lobby of your office. Please, can you convey your cabin or telephone number for verification?”

Prospect: “What lobby? We’re working out of a co-working space. Which building are you?”

Me: “XYZ Towers. XXX Place, New Delhi

Prospect: “What? Delhi? I’m in Mumbai. And here’s the address: XYZ Towers, Mumbai. How the hell are you going to make this work, Sunil?

Me: Our meeting or the business? If it’s the former, I guess that’s precisely why we prefer to have scheduled voice calls before an in-person meeting. Saves everyone a lot of time. If it’s the latter, we’ve been doing business with clients spread across the world for 20 years. I don’t think anything should change now. Knowing what you know now, what do you suggest we should do next?

I never heard back. I probably won’t (or maybe I will, the contact responded two weeks after I denied sharing my company’s credentials and case studies for him to have a look and decide if it’s worth talking to me. And this was after he stood me up for the second time in as many weeks for a Google Meet call!).

Case in point? Two things:

  1. Never accept an in-person meeting invite without qualifying them. Almost 99% of the time these guys just want to be validated or want to bring someone from out to stroke their egos. Qualify the leads first. A meeting can be a viable step #2.
  2. Don’t assume things. Ask. Ask. Ask. And then ask some more. If they’re bleeding or in pain, they would want someone like you (the specialist, their savior) to fix it!
  3. BONUS: Don’t give in to these leads/prospects. The best salespeople have a healthy sense of self-esteem and a good amount of ego (I’m not suggestion egotism or being a moron).

As for me, it’s business as usual tomorrow. But sometimes it’s good for seasoned pros to be reminded of the stupid things they’re capable of doing.

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