In sales interactions, there are things that are unknown. It is a mistake not to ask for and discover the things you know you need to know to do your very best work for your dream client—and so you can create a preference to work with you (the key to winning a deal).
You know that you don’t know who all the people are on the client’s side who are going to get to weigh in on a decision to change partners or do something different. In fact, the contacts that you are working with may not know the answer to this question themselves. Without knowing who is going to decide on the decision to move forward, you can’t do your best work at managing the sale and controlling the process. You must ask directly who is going to be making the decision so that you can engage with them in a way that serves them.
Your contacts have ideas about what is important—and what is most important to them—in any decision to change and with whom they might want to do so. The mistake that is easy to make here is to believe that, because you know what the client shared with you, you automatically know what is important to them. You may even believe you know what is most important to them. This, another known unknown, is knowable. You have to ask individual contacts to share with you what they want explicitly, and you have to ask them as a collective to ensure you know what you believe you know. When had individually, this conversation will let you see what’s important, and it will also make visible the conflicts between stakeholders.
None of this is necessarily easy. In lager, complex deals, your contacts may not really know who is going to get a vote when they decide to take action. And even though you’ve had conversations and believe you know on which factors you are going to be evaluated, it is better to ask and be sure.
There are enough challenges dealing with unknown unknowns. You don’t want to lose a deal because you didn’t deal with the known unknowns.
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