When you understand your dream client’s challenges and know what they need to do, it can be easy to rush to give them the right answer. You know what the solution is, and you know exactly how to help your prospect get the better result they need. When this approach causes your dream client to slow down, retreat, disengage or go dark, it’s because you disconnected from them in the sales conversation. Getting too far ahead is how you lose your dream client in the sales conversation.
Too Many Steps Ahead on the Path
The contacts with whom you are having the sales conversation may be trying to understand why they are struggling to produce the result they need, what options are available to them, and whether or not something might work for them individually. In short, if they withdraw from the conversation, it is because they want to explore and collaborate.
You may know everything you need to offer them solid advice as to what they should do without any more conversation. Your dream client may still need more conversation. Because you sell every day, you are way ahead of your dream client in the sales conversation. You have disconnected from them by getting too many steps ahead of them on the path.
Decoupling from the Sales Conversation
You are in a discovery call, and you are talking with your contacts about why they might change, what is possible, and how they might think about some initiative to improve things. They are engaged with you in this conversation, and you are all together in the place. In The Lost Art of Closing, I called this commitment, Explore. You might call it discovery or diagnosis, both of which work, but I prefer the broadening of the idea, as it eliminates asking a “What’s keep you up at night” kind of approach.
Imagine this exploration provides you with the clearest of view of their problem and its solution. You are right, and you are confident. You know what your contacts need to do, so you explain the solution and how your contacts should move forward. The conversation is now different, and your contacts lean back instead of leaning forward. When this is true, it’s because you left the conversation and moved on to another conversation, one they weren’t quite prepared to have. You decoupled from them, and in doing so, you left them behind.
In the parlance of The Lost Art of Closing, you skipped a number of the ten commitments, including change, collaborate, consensus, and invest and went straight to reviewing a potential solution. To be clear, you may talk about the solution because it is a necessary part of an early conversation. If you talk about it as a way of exploring possible ideas, you stay connected by not framing the solution as your final answer (even though it very well might be).
As Fast as They Can Go and No Faster
I wrote an entire book on controlling the process, winning deals, and ensuring you don’t take more time than is necessary to win deals by providing you help your dream client have the conversations they need and to make and keep the commitments that allow them to move forward.
You might want to speed the deal along because you need it, in which case, your speed becomes your prospect’s obstacle to an agreement. Your client may want to speed things up because they want to get the better results sooner, causing them to make decisions that slow or kill the initiative because they didn’t want to take the time to do something like, acquire an executive sponsor or build consensus. Fast is slow, and slow is fast.
Some of your dream clients are going to move faster than others. A few of them are going to need more time than you believe they should. They might need to go over ground you already covered or bring in new stakeholders who need to go back to the beginning of the conversation. You cannot control the speed of the deal by skipping past the discussions and the necessary commitments.
You can only go as fast as your client can go and no faster, which makes it your job to control the process, which is to say “sell the process,” and provide the roadmap that helps your dream client know what they need to do and helps keep you connected.
Where Are You? Where Are They?
The Lost Art of Closing is my attempt to provide a map of the terrain. It is helpful to know where your client is in the sales conversation so you can serve them where they are, not where you want them to be. It is helpful to be able to share with your prospective client where they are and what comes next for most of the people with whom you engage in this process.
How you increase the speed of the deal (velocity) is by linking the necessary conversations together and accelerating the commitments, not by skipping them or pretending they aren’t needed when they are.
The idea here is a nonlinear methodology. You don’t have to have ten meetings to get through the ten commitments, and in fact, some B2C salespeople have used this framework, sharing that they accomplish nine of the ten in a single meeting. As soon as people who use this idea recognize how far out in front of their prospects they are, they go back and pick them up where they left them. Then they make sure they move them forward at a pace that provides the result both they and their prospective clients need.
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Filed under: Sales