I was recently visiting with a friend of mine. She was telling me that she was working on a couple of clients who were the kind of clients she was hoping to land. Problem is that they were taking longer to make a decision than she thought they should. There was that desire not to pressure for a close but on the other hand the desire to get the business.
What I recommended to her was that she ask her clients how they were going to make their decision. Many times clients haven’t really thought it through and go with a gut reaction. By asking them how they are going to make the decision, it will cause them to actually think it through. There are a couple of advantages to this for you. First, you might be able to influence how the decision is made giving you a bit of competitive advantage. Second, there is the possibility of being seen as a trusted adviser. This will also help the decision lean towards you. This is all about helping your customer select one vendor or another. When I was in Telecom, we did formal RFPs that asked for proposals. We would get as many as a dozen replies. We would sift through the responses to get to narrow the field to 3 vendors. We would then set up presentations for each of the vendors. After all the presentations, we made a group decision. This gave us a timeline and a process that we could give to vendors and they would know what was happening. We would update them each step along the way.
So, if you don’t have a Sales Process and your prospect doesn’t have a selection process then education is a great way to start. What you do is help them define the decision criteria that are important to them in selecting a vendor. You can use external market surveys (like Gartner Magic Quadrants) or similar tools as guidelines. This means you should be very well prepared to answer a question that the prospect may have and you get to demonstrate your knowledge of them along the way.
By the way, this will help you develop your own Sales Process and improve your product offerings. Think about it. If you are thinking about how your prospects make decisions on how to buy your products, doesn’t it make sense to adjust your products and services to fit the decisions? I often talk about Outside-In thinking and this is exactly what I mean. Put yourself in the role of your prospects and customers and think about what they value. You may find it is different than what you value in the transaction. Outside-In thinking is the best way I know of to build an effective Marketing and Sales process. Know what the value you bring to your customers and tell them that is what you do!
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