Your paying expense bills for lunches, meetings, flights and hotel rooms. Its the cost of doing business right?
How many of the clients you’re spending all that time and money on are buying anything? Not enough right?
Your artillery is firing at any target they can find. There is no other way is there? Yes there is!
In the last installment of our “Double Your Sales in 2009”, we covered how timing your presentations and proposals so that they’re not wasted on the wrong prospects can increase your close rate and boost your bottom line. Click here to read “Timing is Everything”.
The idea is simple. Qualify the prospect agressively early in the process. Then conserve your sales resources for the prospects that have a real shot of buying. But its a big switch. Most sales people use presentations and proposals as their initial hook. Of course putting those presentations together and coordinating the meetings is where most of their time goes.
If qualifying is about figuring out how the customer will cost justify your solution, then if you don’t have the answer yet, how do you decide what the best next step is?
What if you start by asking yourself what’s in it for you? I don’t mean the obvious size of the potential deal. I mean what do you get out of the next step? That’s the counterintuitive part. We’re talking about selling something here. You don’t get paid until the deal is closed. So, its not always clear how to quantify the return on the interim steps in the sales process. No one’s going to pay you to show up and give a presentation.
The classic sales advice is “ABC – Always Be Closing”. But in a complex sale with several steps in the buying process, you’re always happy to dish out the next step in the process just so that you can get closer to the closing step.
If your sales process is demo, needs analysis, proposal and close, then first of all, it should be needs analysis, demo, proposal and close (see Double Your Sales in 2009 installments 1 and 2). When you’re finishing up the needs analysis, you first decide if their needs justify your solution, then you ask yourself what the prospect can do to ensure that your demo has the desired effect. What’s that desired effect? THEY ask YOU for a proposal!
So what does your client need to do for YOU to be sure that the upcoming demo is a home run? In the case of a demo, they need to be sure that all the right players are there and they need to tell you what they need to see.
Each Step is an Agreement
What if you “close” on an agreement with the prospect that all these things will take place? Better yet, what if as a part of your needs analysis, you determine what their “must have” requirements are? What if when you’re scheduling the demo you ask the prospect, “If during the demo I’m able to show you that our solution meets all your primary requirements, will you allow me to present a proposal directly to the CEO?”
In other words, there should be a quid pro quo for every step in the process. You do something for me and I’ll do something for you. If not, then you’re just the chaser. You’re begging them to keep dancing with you without any guarantee that they’re going to leave with you.
So each next step in the process has a reality check – Is the prospect willing to invest in the next step themselves? Are they investing their own time, political capital, money, information, etc. that equals the investment you’re making in that next step.
It can seem daunting to decide what the appropriate “investment” by the prospect is. A good place to start is to imagine the ideal prospect. The one that needs what you have to offer and is the absolute perfect fit for your company. This prospect wants your solution more than you want to close them. What would they do at each step in the process? They’re in a hurry to buy from you but, they have to follow their standard process. They’re going to try and help you. They’ll offer to get the decision makers and influencers together for a demo. They’ll offer all the cost information about what not having your solution is doing to their bottom line. These are the kind of things that you want to ask of each prospect.
So they ask you if you can do a demo for the marketing department and you ask yourself, “hmm, what would make that worthwhile? The CEO won’t be there so no decision can be made. What can the marketing department do to help you?” Perhaps you ask them if the marketing department would be willing to share the details of their current advertising spending and return on that spending. That’s the key information that you need in order to show the CEO that its a no brainer! That would make your hour long demo well worth it!
Sales people are negotiators by nature. So they’ll naturally take to this type of give and take.
- Take the list of things you do for prospects that take time and money.
- Then make a list of things your prospects can do for you to make the process easy and show themselves to be highly qualified and likely to buy.
- Now pair the two lists.
The Law of Attraction
The tough part is to resist the temptation to say “YES” immediately when a prospect asks you to do the next thing in your process. Work on saying “Well, I may but, would you do THIS for me?” Clearly, that’s going to be a big change.
What makes this approach difficult is precisely what makes it so powerful! Prospects are not used to hearing no or maybe from sales people. When you respond to their requests with questions about what they’re willing to do in turn for you, it completely sets you apart from your competition. It creates the impression that you’re someone who values their time. That makes you attractive to them!
Up next in our “Double Your Sales in 2009” series – “How to hold your sales team accountable with out running them off “. It’ll be available here on February 16. Don’t forget to register to receive the entire “Double Your Sales in 2009” series as an e-Book here.