“You charge how much?”
The minute I heard the words, I knew I’d blown it. I hadn’t followed my own system, one I’ve taught to hundreds of business owners, who by using it consistently close more high value business.
A system which focuses on demonstrating value and how a prospect would achieve their outcomes rather than on the price.
Here’s the back story.
Had a call from a colleague, let’s call him Sam, who wanted to explore how we could help his team improve their emotional intelligence, communication, project management and leadership skills.
Nothing out of the ordinary, and issues I’ve helped many technical organisations solve over the last 30 years.
So where did it go wrong?
Rather than digging into the problem, finding out what the real concerns were, what this was costing both in money and emotional terms and what he wanted instead, I went into “solution mode”. What we could do to help. How we could structure the session etc.
I then asked about budget. Which is another mistake. Sam had no idea. I was the first person he’d spoken with. So when told a figure, he nearly fell off his chair.
Understand, this is not a reflection on Sam. He had no frame of reference to compare this to. The responsibility was all mine.
So let’s rewind the clock.
Because I’d like to ensure you don’t make similar mistakes, here’s the process I should have followed.
These are the main areas to cover.
Determine the Prospect’s Situation
What they’re trying to accomplish. What problem are they trying to solve. How long it’s been occurring. Get into specifics. Dig deep. Crank up the pain.
e.g. As highly technical people from different backgrounds, Sam feels there are communication issues within the team and with clients. This is affecting productivity on various levels.
The Prospect’s Desired Outcomes
In Sam’s case, have the team become better communicators and leaders.
The Impact of Achieving these Outcomes
Why is it important to solve this issue? What’s the positive impact going to be?
Sam might respond, “We’d improve our productivity by reducing miscommunication between clients as well as team members in remote locations. We’d understand client requirements and have our clients fully understand exactly what results are possible. Correctly setting expectations means less rework…”
Notice though that these are mainly “logical” outcomes.
But no one buys on logic alone. We’re all looking for a personal emotional payoff. Think “What’s in it for them – personally”. How will their lives, job security, promotion, money, kudos etc., be impacted personally by solving this issue.
You’d be both amazed and horrified at how many people will kybosh a deal because it didn’t meet their personal agenda even though it might provide great value to the organisation they work for.
What’s stopping them getting there?
Do they not have the time and/or expertise to get what they want? What can you offer to help them?
What’s the impact of not achieving your desired outcome?
Sam could have said, “As projects get more complex and we have larger teams, issues compound exponentially. This can mean major blowouts in projects with a potentially major effect on our profits.”
Once again, what’s the personal implication for Sam?
What happens if you get the results you’re looking for?
You want them to visualise a possible future that they would prefer to where they are now. And you’re looking for an emotional response.
Your goal is ensuring they fully “get” the value of what you’re providing.
“Imagine you’ve bought the [product/service] and it’s a year from now. You’re looking back at everything you’ve achieved because of your decision today to move ahead. How does it feel?”
Only now should you present your solution, confirm commitment and their investment.
This whole episode highlighted that no matter how experienced we are, we all make mistakes.
Don’t wing it. Always use a sales structure and have it written down in front of you. Do this and I guarantee your results will improve.
And believe me, your clients will appreciate your structure.
Finally, if you want to improve your sales ability and consistently close more high value business, call us to discuss our marketing and sales coaching programs.