How to Really Prepare for Meeting with a Decision-Maker

Back in 1994 I attended a Tony Robbins seminar. It was held at the Navy Pier in Chicago. Five or six hours into the session, Tony had us in a state where he could ask these two questions: “Think about something you always wanted to do, but for some reason, you never did it. Write it down.” Then, “Think about something you always wanted to have, but for some reason, you never bought. Write it down as well.” Within six months I earned my private pilot’s license. Six months after that I owned a single-engine Cessna and had earned my instrument rating. Now that’s what I call motivation. Thanks,  again, Tony.

But Tony didn’t just motivate the audience. He gave us some real business value.  Here is something I learned that day and have used dozens of times since: BEND-WIMP.

Tony explained that when meeting with an important executive for the first time, we need to have a pretty comprehensive understanding of who they are and what’s on their mind. BEND-WIMP is an acronym for Tony’s checklist.  Here it is:

B – Beliefs. What are the person’s beliefs about you, your company, your product? It would be really helpful to know that before you meet the person.

E – Evaluate. How does the person evaluate? Gut feel? Dependence on a recommendation from a trusted advisor? What questions might they ask?

N – Needs. What are their business needs? What will enable them to achieve their business plan?

D – Desire. What do they want on a personal level? (I think about Larry Ellison and the America’s Cup.)

W – Wounds. Where have they gone off the track. Mistakes, errors in strategy, execution, judgment? What subjects should you stay away from discussing?

I – Interests. What are their personal interests? What common ground might you have with them?

M – Mentors.  Who are their mentors? Whose books do they read? What business leaders do they emulate? I won a new customer years ago because I found out that the CEO had all his people read Who Moved the Cheese? I read the book on the plane on the way to the sales call.

P – Proud. What are they proud of? Accomplishments, big wins, etc.?

LinkedIn, which wasn’t around in 1994, is a great tool for executing your BEND-WIMP process. I find people in my network who have worked directly or even several levels down from my targeted executive. As I fill in my checklist, a clear picture of that person emerges. I’m sure you can imagine how much more effective than an ad-hoc Internet search this process is.

BEND-WIMP has paid big dividends for me. Give it a try.

This post was originally written for, and published in, Top Sales World magazine.

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  1. says

    I haven’t walked across any read-hot coals, but I’ve been reading Tony’s stuff since the mid-80′s, I think, and more recently watching videos. I’ve always enjoyed how he considers the entire human package, because in corporate America, at least, we often try to stuff feelings and emotions in a closet. My quip has always been that we hire for skills and capabilities, but then the whole person shows up at work. ;-) Thanks for the BEND-WIMP reminder, Dave. Great stuff.

  2. Dave Stein says

    I did walk the coals, Mike. Another learning experience, however extreme.

    I like that. “The whole person shows up for work.”

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. says

    Sure, Dave. Might be extreme, but few people know how to get you at access an emotional state like Tony. And the “read-hot” coals I mentioned, are what I get for posting comments on a mobile phone!

  4. Sue Schnorr says

    Dave, thanks for the tips and alignment to LinkedIn. I have always liked Tony’s work. I took his class which involved breaking the piece of wood with your hand. On the first attempt, I doubted myself and of course I didn’t chop the wood. I tried again and knew I could do it and sure enough, I broke it in half. Very cool and memorable experience. I was just thinking I should review my notes from that class. Thanks for the reminder and tips.

  5. says

    Dave, thanks for bringing forward some learnings from the past. Tony has long offered some great teachings, I remain a big fan of his stuff. One thing I have concluded after years of listening and learning and doing is to pay greatest attention to the simplest ideas. They are often the most valuable and true for the long haul. Thanks for sharing your ideas here.

    • says

      Thanks, Jim, for your comment.

      I learned a lot from Tony. I listed to his tapes faithfully for a few years. He was the spark behind my motivation to leave the corporate world and go at it as a consultant.


  6. says

    Well, the article is pretty inspiring.
    The BEND-WIMP process is actually a wonderful way to conduct a successful meeting, with a prospect in order to generate a happy and approved Customer.
    And it also could help in many fields of life.

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