Those questions were raised at a recent sales course we ran, and they are interesting because most salespeople are trained to present and close at every opportunity.
In fact, in one of my favourite films, Glangarry Glenross, Alec Baldwin is famous for using the ABC method of closing, standing for Always Be Closing.
So why wouldn’t you always offer the solution? Why would you think of any alternative? Isn’t it strange to think that you wouldn’t close when you have the opportunity?
Well, many people suggest that it might be better to offer up to three options and then help the prospect choose which one would be best for them.
Let’s discuss the reasons for this:
Humans have this innate desire to want a choice. When they have a choice they feel in control, as if they are having an influence on the solution and the benefits they will achieve from it. Even if the choice is between Yes and No, we still like to feel that we control the situation.
Also, the optimum number of choices for someone is three. With two choices, it’s an either/or decision. With four or more choices, it can tend to overwhelm and intimidate us. But three seems to be the optimum number; not to many, not too few.
If we’re asked to choose between two options, we may feel pressured, wanting to choose the lesser of the two evils, or asking for more time to think it through.
But when we’re given three options, we tend to see the option of ‘no’ fading away.
Think of this when you next are asked to present a solution, or you feel the time is right to present the solution. Ask yourself, are there three options available to the prospect? If so, offer the choices, then request the prospect thinks through which be best for them or their business. This gives them a wider choice and enables you to help them consider the best alternative of the three for them and their business.
Offer three solutions. Discuss which one would be best for them. Help them make the best choice.
You’ll be surprised how often you’ll get a solution there and then, instaed of ‘I’ll think about it’.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by imagerymajestic)
There comes a time in every salesperson’s discussion with a prospect when they need to change tack and get to the decision-making bit. You know…grabbing the prospect by the throat and saying ‘Look, this is what you NEED…when are you gonna say YES?!!!”
I know it’s a little forward, but that essentially is what you want to say to them. And you’re probably saying/shouting/screaming it in your mind anyway!
Well, the best way to approach this part of the discussion is not by presenting solutions at all. It’s by recommending what you suggest the client does next. If you’ve built up rapport and got the desire running through their veins, your transition to gaining commitment should be a natural progression of the conversation. Everything you’ve done in the call so far (preparation, working with the gatekeeper, information-gathering, interest-creating, desire-building, questioning-and-listening, researching and deliberating) should have laid the foundation for the transition to gaining commitment.
When you know what needs to be done to fill your prospect’s needs, you can recommend what needs to be done next.
Initial Stage Of The Transition
“Mr Prospect, based on what you’ve told me about your company needs and your existing situation, along with your current supply challenges, I believe I have something that will help you earn more profit per unit and counteract some of the problems you’re facing currently”
This clears the way for you to start talking about solutions because the prospect knows there will be something of benefit for them.
Gain Confirmation That You’ve Understood
“Let’s review our understanding of where we are at the moment. You’ve said you’re not entirely happy with the service levels of your current supplier, and you believe there may be some mileage in looking around at what else might be available. Also, you’ve tried renegotiating the credit arrangements, but found them to be unwilling to move very far. And you sometimes question the quality of back-up service you get. Now, have I summed that up correctly?”
Not only does this prove you’ve been listening effectively, but you also accentuate the pain associated with the current position in the prospect’s mind.
Recommend The Results That Will Come If They Follow The Next Steps
“Mr Prospect, I understand why all that is so important to you. How beneficial would it be to have your own account manager who would take care of all these issues for you, so you can concentrate on what’s important to your business instead of wasting valuable time on dealing with these issues? How much time would you save?”
Make sure you concentrate on what results the prospect would expect from your solution. Don’t focus on your product or service and what it does. They don’t buy the product…they buy the results the product will bring (peace of mind, money-savings, time-savings, increased productivity, improved morale, etc, etc). After going through the results, ask them ‘Would that be OK? Is that something that would save you money?’
“Mr Prospect, from our discussions we’ve seen that you’d start saving £x per week. It makes sense for us to explore more details of how we could start those savings as early as possible for you. When would be the best time to start?”
This gains agreement on the next action, which could consist of downloading your information, agreeing to a trial or making the commitment to buy. Whatever the agreement, it takes the discussions further and helps you create opportunities for advancing the sale.
Transitioning from your presentation to recommending commitment doesn’t have to be a tortuous journey. Done correctly, you help them see the next step on the road is one where they will benefit from saying yes. And that will help you both to achieve your end goals.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Digital Art at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Have you been successful in a sale and then tried a similar appraoch with someone else, only to find it goes terribly wrong? Join the club!
We often think that because we’ve sold our product or service to one person or company, then it must be right for the next person too.
And here’s the surprising thing…it may be the right solution for both companies. But we’ve missed the one thing that can influence whether the prospect will buy today, tomorrow or never.
The easiest way to assimilate this idea is to put yourself in your prospects’ shoes when you meet them.
What situations are they facing today? What challenges do they have to deal with? What pressures are presenting obstacles? When you think of these questions, it’s no wonder that they have a lot on their mind. And it’s when they are in this mindset that we try to sell? How strange is that!
Yes, we’re talking about state management. What this means is that humans need to be in a particular state before they can carry out certain tasks or behaviours.
Have you ever been in a situation where you needed, wanted or even craved to make a decision, and you couldn’t? You say ‘there’s too much choice’ or ‘I don’t know what to do here’. What it means is you aren’t in the right ‘state’ to make the decision.
It’s the same with your prospect. How many times have you tried to present a solution and you know the person isn’t on your wavelength, or they are coming up with strange objections that don’t make sense to you?
What’s probably happened is that they have not been in the right frame of mind, or state, to be presented to. So how can you change this? Try these…
1) Before you try to present any solution, get your prospect to agree that they need a solution. This may seem obvious but without him or her agreeing that they actually need the solution, they may not be thinking clearly about how the solution will be beneficial to them.
2) Talk about how their future business can and will be different. Don’t propose anything until this preferred future is described in such a way that that they want a solution and are in the state to listen to the answer from you.
3) Create a willingness to ‘future-pace’ their business and see what the results would be before solving today’s problems. This way, they are seeing things in the light of what they want the future to hold. It makes it easier for them to assimilate your ideas and suggestions.
You need to ensure that they are in the right state to accept solutions before you start discussing them. If you try before they are ready, you run the risk of having the prospect not being ready to make the decision, simply because they are not yet in the mindset to accept solutions. Get it right, and they can make the best solution for themselves, their staff, their businesses and their customers.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Master Isolated Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
When you have found out precisely what the client is wanting in terms of solutions to their problems, you have earned the right to present those solutions. And much of what you say comes down to demonstrating the viability of your product to serve the needs of the client.
So many presentations I have seen fall short of what I consider the baseline for this most vital stage of the sales process. Many salespeople think the product will sell itself or they don’t plan enough to become flexible to the needs of the specific client, and so the presentation becomes a boring list of features that were obviously given to the last prospect and the one before that and the ….. etc.
So, here’s a list of things you should do and things you should steer clear of in order to make your product presentation come alive:
Firstly, don’t do these…
Don’t highlight too many features that the prospect hasn’t expressed an interest in: You will know these from your analysis of the REAL needs of the prospect
Don’t demeonstrate your product to people who don’t have the need or the decision-making authority: It’s a waste of your time and if they need to sell that onto others, they won’t be able to answer questions the way you will be able to.
Don’t drown the person in jargon: Even if the propsect is tech-savvy, ensure tyhey have a clear understanding of what you’re refering to. Their acronyms may be different to yours!
Now to the things you should be doing!
Do use the product to back up the claims you have made earlier: It should prove that what you have demonstrated will achieve their goals.
Do create an atmosphere of decision-making: This means that everything you demonstrate should aid the prospect to see how buying it will make their lives easier, richer, more productive, less costly, or whatever their buying decision is based on.
Do have a sequence or flow for the demonstration, and make it pertinent to their business: If it’s a scripted demo, the prospect will immediately see through it and you’ll lose credibility.
Do employ ‘Murphy’s Law’, which states that if it can go wrong, it probably will: Have back-ups to support your message. What if your laptop dies, or the bulb goes out, what if…what if…you get the picture.
Do demonstrate how the product will affect their business for the better: If there are things the product will do that will assist them in getting closer to their overall goals, get those out on the table and get the prospect to agree on how they will help.
You need to identify what value the product will offer to this specific user. If you can personalise your offering to make their business or lives better, they are more likely to pay attention and see the benefits you are offering.
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training
In a previous blog we discussed some ideas that many salespeople still live by, but have been proved to be either old school or too cheesy for today’s savvy business buyer.
Our next home truth shows that, even though there might be some room for positive enthusiasm, many people think it will automatically encourage the prospect to be on their wavelength and so stand a better chance of getting a progress in the sale.
Don’t get me wrong…you should always maintain positivity in your relationships with prospects, but the overwhelming number of clients we have researched have told us that the typical, cheesy, enthusiastic sales person, gushing product knowledge and white smiles, actually puts them off listening to them. One client told us that he ended up counting how many times the salesperson said “I’m very pleased…” or “I’m delighted…” during the pitch! He thought, “Great! Now tell me why I should be pleased and delighted!”
So today’s home truth is:
False: Enthusiasm sells
Truth: Enthusiasm helps, but more important is total concern in your prospect’s life and business
Here are some tips to make this happen:
By recognising how your customer buys, you will be able to match their enthusiasm rather than using it to cover over any inefficiencies the prospect may see. The prospect will see that the value of your services is genuine, and that can only be good for business!
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training