How things have changed.facilitator-role

When I started my sales career in the early 90’s you were given a bunch of target accounts and told, “Go prospect”. And when you eventually found someone to talk to (after numerous cold calls), you went into “sales mode”.

i.e. You told them all about you and the wonderful stuff you could do. The whole presentation was about you, not them.

Fast forward to 2016 and buyers have become more savvy and will often do a significant amount of research into possible solutions before contacting possible suppliers.  And they won’t put up with pushy salespeople trying to thrust stuff on them.

Therefore smart salespeople have moved from “selling” to becoming a “buying facilitator”.

Here’s what I mean.

Your prospects are looking for solutions. Results and above all value.

It’s your job to help them on this journey from initial enquiry to completed sale.

So what’s this got to do with facilitation?

noun fa·cil·i·ta·tor : One that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance.

Your prospects have a problem they’re looking to fix. They either have something they don’t want or want something they don’t have.

Your role is to show them how they can achieve their outcome. You do this through facilitating their buying process.

And yes, there is a process.

While all effective facilitation follows a process, the “art” is to make it appear seamless, unforced and completely natural. Where you smoothly take your prospect from where they are to showing them how you can help them get the outcomes they want.

I’ve included the bare bones of our structure below:

  • Create a context for the conversation. Why are you having this conversation.  My favourite opening is, “Why are we here?”
  • Determine the prospect’s current situation. If they called you, let them tell you.  If you initiated the conversation you’d better have done your research so you know they’re likely to be facing whatever issue you’re trying to solve.  Gone are the days when you could do on “fishing expeditions”, wasting their time.
  • Find out what they want instead – their desired outcome. Dig deep.  What they tell you on the surface is just the starting point.
  • The emotional impact of achieving these outcomes. These are their personal wants/don’t wants.
  • Challenges in the way of getting what they want.
  • The implications of the challenges – What’s the cost of not getting what they want – both physically and emotionally.
  • Possibilities of overcoming their challenges.
  • Present your services.
  • Confirm commitment.
  • Final Close, Payment and Next steps.

While this may seem pretty straightforward, there are a lot of nuances.

The art is in moving your prospect through each stage, making sure they’re coming with you.

A good facilitator concentrates on his audience. Not himself.

A common mistake is focusing inwards. Thinking about what you’ll say next. Not being fully present.

So you miss cues from your prospect. Cues that would tell you they’re still back there somewhere while you blindly charge forward.  Then you wonder why you get objections or evasion.

And finally, a good facilitator moves the meeting towards a conclusion. Defines the next steps and puts in place a timeline and accountability.

Rather than asking your prospect, “Where would you like to go from here?”, make recommendations.

“Given what you’ve told me, I recommend you should do…”

Get agreement on a course of action and move the sale forward. Remember it’s not over until the cheque’s in the bank.

Sick of having sales meetings go nowhere? Want to become an effective Sales Facilitator and improve your closing rate? Talk to us about improving your end to end process. I guarantee you will close more business or your money back.

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