This Tip is for HR Consultants who are trying to improve their ability to talk about "real business issues" with prospective clients. I'm talking about the Profit&Loss statement of a business, and all the critical issues that surround and impact that.
The first assumption is that you know HOW to do that (have the "business conversation", that is) if given the opportunity. But CEOs and other C-suite members don't just blab all that private proprietary information to any joe-sixpack who stumbles into their office. The right to have access to that information needs to be earned. You have to prove you're a trusted adviser level consultant, and not just another dime-a-dozen vendor.
How do you start to earn that trust? At the very beginning of the conversation, hand the prospect a signed, one-way Non-Disclosure Agreement that states in writing that whatever they share with you about their company will not go past you. There is ZERO downside to doing this with ANY type or size of prospective client, and there is HUGE upside. And it doesn't take any extra time, because they don't need to read it, because they don't need to sign it. You give them a written promise, and ask nothing in return!
Try it next time you meet with a new prospect, and watch the positive reaction it gets. It works!
(There are tons of places you can snag an NDA template to start from. Here's one link to an option on SCORE's website. Remember, you'll still have to tweak pretty much any one you find, because most are written as two-way agreements.)