To advance an opportunity from target to close, you have to obtain a bunch of smaller commitments that may, eventually, lead to much larger commitment.
Checking all of the boxes on your sales process worksheet is important, but so is obtaining the commitments that move the opportunity forward. Inevitably, you are going to run into resistance obtaining some of those commitments. Many of these commitments are critical to winning the opportunity. What is more, these commitments are critical to you and your client succeeding together should you win the opportunity.
Selling a Better Buying Process
The commitments that you need to move your opportunity aren’t only for your benefit. Most of them are equally important to your dream client—especially if they need you to win.
You need access to the stakeholders deep within the organization so that you can understand what your solution needs to look like for the people who are going to be involved in the effort. You also need their support later for your change effort to succeed.
If your dream client doesn’t want you to have access three levels deep, it is your duty to help them understand that a better buying process includes building a consensus around change, top to bottom—not ramming it through after a decision has been made without the courtesy of understanding or inclusion.
The key executives at your dream client’s company are busy. They may not be all that interested in your ideas, but they still retain the ultimate financial decision-making authority. Your sponsor within your dream client may want to prevent you from accessing the key executives early in the process and save that for the boardroom. For your purposes, you want access long before the boardroom, so you can make sure your story is aligned with the executive’s vision, as well as her team’s vision.
A better buying process means that you get the executive sponsorship to ensure that you have the resources and the air cover you need to succeed when the going gets rough.
You need access to information. Some of it requires access to some of their intellectual property, their systems, their processes, and maybe even something you might leverage during a negotiation to command a higher price.
A better buying process means using all of the information available to understand the nature of your dream client’s needs, and building a solution that is built on the facts, as they exist now—not as you will discover when your train runs off the track, and your dream client loses face, loses time, and loses money.
Asking for the commitments you need to advance your opportunity means explaining why you need what you need—and how your dream client will benefit from agreeing to that commitment.
This is closing. This is obtaining commitments.
Just as you wouldn’t ask for a your dream client’s business without first understanding their needs and ensuring they understood what your solution will do to improve their results, you don’t ask for or easily obtain the commitments that advance your opportunity without first sharing with your client how they will benefit from agreeing to those commitments.
In doing so, you help them build a better and stronger buying process.
How do the outcomes from the commitments you need to obtain extend to your dream clients both during and after the sales process?
Do you always explain why you need what you need, what you intend to do with what you ask for, and how it benefits your client? Or, do you sometimes ask for the commitment without sharing the “why?”