Step 2 discoverythe rest of the story

The next step in the qualification process is one of mutual discovery. This is when consultants learn the rest of the story about the client's organization and the project, and when clients size up consultants. Often, projects are won or lost in the discovery phase. So diligently prepare for client meetings and leave nothing to chance.

Efficiently collect the information you need to assess the opportunity and follow the nine rules listed next.

► Guerrilla Rules for Discovery

1. Set precise objectives and identify next steps. Prepare an agenda that specifies what both consultants and clients will get out of discovery meetings. Some sales consultants suggest that you begin by citing an example of what you've done to help similar clients. That may be a waste of time if the client has researched you. Wait for clients to ask for details about you before volunteering such information.

Never leave a client meeting without agreeing what comes next. It could be scheduling your next meeting or setting up a series of interviews within the organization.

2. Never wing it. Before client meetings, review the client's annual report and other company literature. Then dig deeper to understand the executive relationships within the client's organization and the client's position in the industry. Call your contacts to get their perspectives on the company and its key people. Look at the company's competition to understand its external challenges, and research its customers, suppliers, investors, and employees.

3. Skip the small talk. On meeting a new client, it's natural to scan an office to get impressions about the client's interests and worldview. Go ahead and check everything out, but don't make lame comments about the deer head mounted on the wall and then launch into a tale about your experience hunting exotic animals in Africa. Make mental notes, but skip the small talk; it merely delays meetings and wastes time. Focus on using time to your fullest advantage.

4. Bring the right people. Make sure that the people you bring to discovery meetings can contribute. Bring only those who have

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