The head of Coca-Cola in Australia used to say, "I work with individuals not companies." When you're in a meeting, you're meeting and dealing with individuals and each of those individuals has very different needs, wants, and desires. Wharton Business School, one of the best business schools in the world, says that clients want you to understand their needs and their context. Once you understand their needs and their contexts, you're able to make offers within that context that get accepted. How do you prepare properly for a meeting then? How do you find out what that person needs and wants? How do you make your pitch in their terms? Let us focus on WISH. W, Who are they? I, Issues, what are their biggest issues, problems and questions? S, What are your solutions? H, how can you help them? Brainstorm each of these in as much detail as possible. If I was in a meeting or if I was going to a meeting with a prospective client, I would find out everything I could about who they were? How long have they been in the role? Are they married? Do they have kids? Where do they go on holidays? What are they doing this spare time? Any topics that they write about? What groups are they a part of? There is so much available online that you can find out a great deal. You want to know this person as well as possible, then you can not only match them physically and vocally, but bring up common interests and favorite holiday places and hobbies. I was always told to find out something that would make the other person wonder how you found it out. It shows you're already interested in them and who they are as an individual. Find out if you can also any personal issues. One of my clients found out that his new business partner had just lost her baby. Now this would significantly affect this individual. Other situations I've come across are divorces, affairs, children with disabilities, parents with dementia, and many, many more. That's life. It's rare that you're speaking with a person who isn't affected by something outside of work. Now I don't mean gossip. Always remember that people are doing the best with the resources they have available. All I'm asking is to be aware. The more you know about a person, the more you know about this person and the more you know, the easier it is to understand how they make their decisions. If you're sharing a client within the office, it can be helpful to have a single file which everyone adds to, unless you're in the pharmaceutical industry, in which case it's not legal to do so. However, for everyone else, it's essential. Once you've done this brainstorm, you'll really feel like you know the person and it is much easier to do business with someone you know. That brings us to issues. Again in brainstorm, not only the work challenges they have but also the personal ones. This is the most important area to research. With work issues, have they just gone through a race structure or are they about to go through one? Is their role on the line? Restructures are like the show survivor, no one trusts anyone. There's a small amount of resources which everyone is fighting over and they're all afraid of being kicked out. If you don't know what their issues are or what issues they're facing, what can you do? That's right, you can ask them or ask someone who knows them. That's why I always encourage people to constantly add context to their LinkedIn profile. Then if you need to meet with someone, you can check and see if there's anyone else you know who knows them. Even better, is to write them an email or call them before the meeting and say, "I know we're meeting tomorrow. In order to make this meeting as relevant as possible, what would you like to cover? What's happening with you were at the moment? What would be most useful for you to go through?" So often however, we feel like we cannot ask these questions. Why? Firstly, because we think that we should already know. For some reason, you should know this person and exactly what they're going through but when you assume what that person's issues are, you are making and ass out of you and me. Secondly, we do not want to ask them because we think that we will annoy them. It is far more annoying, frustrating, and detrimental to that relationship if you run a meeting which is not relevant to what they need right now. So please ask them. Now solutions, this is the third brainstorm. Once you've looked at all of the problems that they may be facing, now you need to find all of the solutions that will solve those problems. If you know your target market and you know their issues well, you'll have already chosen this client because they're a perfect fit for what you offer. You'll also already have a list of solutions or products or services that solve this target market's biggest issues. I say this, but many companies have an identified who their ideal target market is, what problems they can solve for them, and how to solve these problems, the ideal customer journey. If you have this, great, if not, I'm sure you could develop it easily especially if you've been in the field for some time. Finally, help. Refine those solutions into one, two, or three ways that you can help them and the benefits of those both tangible and intangible. Now with the help section, it's important that it's very simple and very clear. Often you don't have the final decision maker in the room, you have a semi decision-maker or even if they say they're the decision maker, most decision makers consult others they trust. So in order for them to transfer your ideas clearly and succinctly to someone else, make sure they're structured in a way which makes it easy to use and easy to see the outcomes and benefits. It may seem simplistic, however, often I will make it into an acronym like WISH, or I'll make it into alliteration for example, the three Ps, which may be people, performance, and profit. Just make it clear and easy for you and them to remember, categorize, and understand. If you have an example or a case study for each of your solutions, that's even better. Once you're clear on WISH, you now need to work out what you want to get out of the meeting but be sure to put it in their terms. By that I mean, how is it going to benefit them? Everyone is tuned into the same radio station WIIFM, what's in it for me? If that's unclear, they would disconnect before you've hardly begun. So WISH away and find out who's really in the room.