Figure out their needs. What is the key thing they want to achieve? What would be an unexpected bonus?
Paint the ideal situation. Excite them about what the future could hold. Whether it's a merger going ahead successfully or an increase in share price, show you understand what they are trying to accomplish.
Become their trusted adviser. Do your homework so you have a clear understanding of the market. That way, you may reveal challenges for the business they haven't considered.
Unsettle them. Ask questions that make them sit up and think: 'If competitors solve this problem before us, what then?'
Suggest a solution. Show what you can bring to the table to support them in resolving their challenge. If your proposition is not what they would have devised themselves, even better.
Build urgency. Explain the consequences if they ignore your offer. A glimpse of potential results can have a big impact, as pictures of environmental damage convince people to recycle.
Add value. Help them unlock new opportunities to grow their business. 'If you were able to automate this process, how much time might that free up to develop new clients?'
Highlight the return. Ask questions to help them realise what they'd stand to profit from your solution. 'If this gets you to market ahead of the competition, what's it worth?'
Consider the risks. Think in terms of implementation, potential internal resistance from their team and any effects on them personally. Work with them to reduce these risks.
Shed a favourable light. Make your proposition look more appealing by mentioning it alongside something that is more expensive. If we have just bought a tailor-made suit, a mere extra £40 for a tie seems nothing in comparison.
- 'The Mind Gym: Give me time' is published by Time Warner Books (£12.99). Contact the firm at www.themindgym.com.