Hung out with the same guy at Tuesday night Bible study for 3 years. One day he said, "I heard you tell someone you know something about computers. My company needs software for our factory. Do you know anything about that?" Turned into 50K over the next 6 months.
Went to an industry dinner/speaker event. The stranger next to me asked what I did. I told him. He asked if I ever did. Before I could answer, my partner joked, "That's how we made our first million." The stranger said, "How'd you like to make your second million?" We talked all night and started work 2 days later. 20K in 2 months. All from a joke.
How do I find customers? I just talk to people. All the time. I allow my inquisitive nature to take over. But most importantly, I really care. A mentor of mine once told me that lots of people need what we provide, so it's our responsibility to find them and see what we can do to help.
If I'm in someone's business (even as a retail customer), I often ask to watch as they enter data into their customer facing system. This invariably leads to some discussion and who knows what else. I attend events and network regularly, even if it's just staying in touch with acquaintances and asking what others are up to. Email works really well for this.
I don't have a solution in mind because I want to listen to the other's problems first. If something I have written (generally small business or e-commerce) sounds close to what can help them, I may go down that path. Anything else, I pass, but gladly provide a referral to someone who can help, if I know of any.
Businesses in general are not looking to buy products or services. They are looking to solve their own problems. This is NOT a discussion about your product or service. It is a discovery of the thing that bites them in the ass (that they would do just about anything to get rid of).
As you meet people (and you need to be out there in order to do this), you'll have to let them know what you do or have in order to get the discussion going. After that, the discussion is entirely about their problem.
First of all, remember that this is an INTRODUCTION, no more, no less. So take the following words out of your vocabulary right now: don't, but, money, donations, profit, give, bring. You are there to get to know each other, that's all. Be prepared to speak openly and honestly when asked. And be prepared to LISTEN. These are the best things you can do for him.
I would not push anything in a first meeting, but I would be prepared to respond to any question. You don't mention whether this introduction is over a meal - all the more reason to relax, take it easy, and enjoy.
I would spend some time up front preparing. Mentally have a list of any possible question and your response. Also, learn something about the customer. You already have a mutual contact (your previous CEO), so you should have something interesting to talk about besides your project. Remember, he is interested in YOU as much as your work. Give him a chance to get to know you.
Buyers of software products, like small children, hear one word more than any other: "no". "No, it can't be done." "No we don't do that." "No, if you did that it would screw up everything else." "No, that's stupid" It doesn't matter if you're right, all that matters is that you're just another person saying "no".
You differentiate yourself from others by giving the exact same answer, but with the word "yes" instead of "no".
"Yes, in order to do that, we'd also want to look at:"
The #1 question to ask when selling to the enterprise is, "What are the spending authority cut-offs?" Nothing means more.
Funny, in my experience, the 5K and 100K numbers are pretty accurate.
I recently assisted in the purchase of business intelligence package. The CIO (my contact) had authority to spend up to $100K. Anything more had to go the board, and that "just wasn't going to happen". One vendor knew what to ask and bid $93K. The two others were much higher. Guess who (automatically) got the sale. The other 2 may have been better, but we'll never know. They were effectively eliminated by rules they never asked about.
You have to get your prospects to think that what you're offering was their idea all along.
How do you do this?
Get to know them. Spend time with them. Find out what their lives are like, what they have to go through to compete, and what makes them suffer. Jump into their pool at the deep end and learn how to swim. Walk through their warehouses, customer service departments, and general offices. Sit down at their computers and try to do their jobs. Get them talking.
I'm not trying to be abrupt, but it sounds like you've already done all the right things and your relationship with your customer should have reached the point where you can ask them exactly this question.
I have found most networking (of any kind) to be an inefficient use of my time. At most events, I always had a little voice in my head saying things like, "Instead of being here, I could be building," or "What could possibly come out of this discussion?" I'm also frustrated because so many events don't have my prospects, but "people who know people who know people who may know a potential prospect of mine".
I have taken a totally different approach. It's really simple and maybe even counter-intuitive. Hear me out:
Be excellent. Better yet, be "very" excellent. In everything you do.