BY ANDI GRAY
Dilemma: With many of our clients, it seems that there isn’t an urgency to book service. We need to get some sales closed now. How do I get prospects to act sooner?
Thoughts of the Day: Help buyers recognize the consequences for not booking. Dare to be different, but in a good way. Seek out companies that are actively working to improve their conditions.
Start with the highest-ranking team member whose ear you can get, even if it’s to get their approval to circle back to the top dog. Once others have put their stamp of approval on your proposal, use that influence as motivation by referencing your agreement with the boss, affirming that you’ll be moving things along within the chain of command. For many people, the risk tied to holding things up can be greater than the risk of acting to endorse a product or service.
Listen carefully to each decision-maker and influencer. What problems are they trying to solve? Look for emotional triggers rather than intellectual ones. Focus on threats to safety, security, and well-being.
Just because you’ve been thinking about how to close this sale doesn’t mean your client or prospect has. You have to break through their clutter. Ask the buyer to clarify what has to happen to get to a decision made and what to do if there’s an obstacle at any step along the way.
Play devil’s advocate. Underrate customers’ motivations to act and get them to explain why you’re wrong. For example, ask how urgent a certain issue is on a scale of 1 to 10. Then say that you thought it was a lower number and watch them defend its priority and then increase the rating, explaining to you why it’s more important and urgent than it might seem on the surface.
Talk with prospects about how welcome they will be in your community of action-oriented clients. Share examples of how being affiliated with your company has helped other clients solve problems, innovate, save money and time, and so on.
Assume rather than question the sale. Plant seeds along the way by talking about how to get through implementation actions, rather than asking if the buyer wants to close. Make sure your instructions on how to follow through are clear. Only offer one or two next steps at a time; don’t complicate things.
Do your homework. Come armed with facts about others who have delayed adopting your company as their transportation provider, only to have been negatively impacted by inaction: Competitive threats, lost opportunity, or the realization that the lowest-cost provider was actually costing the company money because the service was inferior. Presenting facts as third-person examples ("Other companies have run into these kinds of problems") can be very persuasive. Upside challenges are also useful: "The leaders in your market have already signed on. What are you waiting for?"
Conversely, presenting facts about companies your potential buyer looks up to can also be helpful. Get leaders in their market or vertical industries to offer testimonials about the subject:
• "By acting quickly, we got the respect of our peers."
• "I could afford to ignore the issue, but that wouldn’t be smart—who wastes money in this day and age?"
• "If I hadn’t jumped on this I’d be looking for a new job right now."
Make an exclusive offer for people who share your values. Instead of pushing prospects to buy, propose the possibility that it may not be right for them and offer to withdraw. "Not everybody gets it. We offer services for a select group of companies. We may not be where you’re focused and if that’s the case, I should definitely move on." Nobody likes to be rejected, and chances are the prospect will start to shift towards action. [CD0418]
Looking for a good book?
Try "Power Phone Scripts: 500 Word-for-Word Questions,
Phrases, and Conversations to Open and Close More Sales"
by Mike Brooks.
Andi Gray is the founder of the Business Consulting Firm Strategy Leaders. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.