What is a bridging statement? It is a thoughtful way to smoothly and confidently transition to your next thought in a respectful way. One main benefit of good bridging statements is that you will maintain control of the meeting. Here are three examples of good bridging statements:

"John, I am very excited to have the opportunity to meet with you today. I am very interested in learning more about you and your company/family/goals. With your permission, I would like to ask you a few questions about..."

"John, thanks again for your time today. It sounds as though it might make sense for me to share some information relative to my background and expertise. Are you comfortable if we start there?"

"John, I'm pleased to have the opportunity today to present a customized solution for your review."

With your bridging statement, you have just entered (and progressed) into your business meeting with a "Value Mindset," and from here your mission of delivering your value is taking shape. Let's do a review of the exercise by illustrating a real-life Value Mindset Skill Model:

Scenario: You have spoken briefly to your prospect by phone and have scheduled a meeting. Your prospect is a small business owner and is a member of his/her industry's largest trade association, as well as a highly regarded speaker at the events.

Step One: Develop Rapport Dialogue. "Thank you for seeing me today, Bob. Before we get started, let me congratulate you on your recent speech at the Association for Small Business Owners. How long have you been speaking? (Wait for response.) My clients and associates occasionally are invited to speak at association meetings, and they often will ask for my advice. What has been one of the keys to your success?" (Discuss)

Next you will bridge into the objectives of the meeting with sensitivity. For example: "Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm sure that I'll be able to use your suggestions."

Step Two: State Objectives Dialogue. "Bob, I have three objectives for our time today. They are: First, to review the key needs you mentioned to me over the phone to make sure I understand them correctly. Next, to ask additional questions to clarify the information we previously discussed so I can take my understanding of your situation even deeper. And third, is to enhance your comfort level of our team and to explain the value we provide to individuals like you."

Step Three: Confirm Expectations Dialogue. "Are these objectives in line with your expectations for the time we planned today?"

Step Four: Confirm Time Dialogue. "On the phone, you said that you would have 30 minutes for our meeting. Is that still appropriate? (Wait for response.) Would you mind if I took notes and/or recorded our meeting while we speak?"

Step Five: The Bridge Dialogue. "If you're comfortable, I'd like to begin by discussing the information you shared and asking a few more questions so I'll know for certain how we can provide value to you/your family/your business."-or-"I'd like to review the key issues we discussed at our last meeting."

One of the main benefits of learning this skill model is the knowledge that you have taken the proper time and energy to prepare for your meetings, and that you have the confidence you need to answer questions with confidence, passion and speed (without hesitation).

Next time we'll discuss a new questioning paradigm and help you develop your Value Questioning Strategy (VALUEQS) skill model. This will allow you to identify what the client/prospect truly values so you can position the unique benefits and features of your team or firm.

Good luck, and no more winging it!