Your dream client is trying to solve a persistent challenge or embark on some new initiative that they believe is critical to their future. The C-level executives are having animated meetings about what they should do and exploring options that might work, but they haven’t committed to anything more than a conversation to explore change. They want to discover what’s possible, and what the best path might be under the present circumstances.
Here’s the big question: do you belong in the room with this group of decision-makers and decision-shapers? Would the contacts making this decision be better off with you in the room than with one of your competitors? Your answer to this question will help you measure your competency in modern sales and your confidence as a consultative salesperson. And as long as we’re asking tough questions, here are a few dozen more for you.
If you were able to get in a room with the C-level executives struggling to identify what they need to do or how they pursue their new initiative, would your insights provide them with clear ideas about all the factors they might need to consider?
Would your questions cause the decision-makers to sit up, lean forward, and reply “that’s a really good question”? Would you teach them something valuable that they hadn’t even considered?
Would the insights you share prove that you are in the “one-up” position, meaning that you know more than they do about the results they need and how to produce them? Would they immediately invite you back for another meeting because of the value you created?
Have you transformed your experience helping clients into expertise in providing the right advice for the right scenario? Can you help your clients explore a range of choices for how to produce the results they need? Does your authority make you the natural choice to be in the room for a conversation about change?
When your contacts are looking for answers and professional help, will your conversation help them understand how to think about the decision they are making? Will it provide them with a better way to weigh their options, based on their priorities and their readiness to execute something new? Can you explain precisely which factors make one choice better than another?
Does your experience provide your client with the confidence that you are a subject-matter expert who understands the subtleties that your competitors overlook? Will your experience differentiate you and cause the people in the room to prefer to buy from you? Have you demonstrated that you can be trusted to help them succeed in their new endeavor?
Can you ask questions and share experiences that help your contacts discern what the right solution should look like—without having to mention, hint at, or even pitch your solution? Would your opinion on the right solution still hold true if they bought it from your competitor?
Will your approach take into account how the stakeholders who are missing from some of your meetings can get a solution they can execute? Will it give those missing stakeholders something they will want to execute, even if it means going through the messy process that always accompanies real change?
Will your recommended solution solve the real challenge the client is trying to solve, even if they haven’t recognized or acknowledged the real obstacles to the results they need? Will you refuse to settle for solving the presenting problem, knowing that the courage to solve the real problem is more important than making an easy sale? Do you value the truth more than you value your deal?
A Better Decision
Once your contacts have met with you, will they be better prepared to make a good decision than they would have been without you? Will they be able to act with confidence because of the assistance and the clarity you provided them through the sales conversation?
Will your conversations cover everything that matters in the kind of decision your prospective client is trying to make? Will you have taught them enough about their choices, the different models available, and why your recommendation is the one they can be confident in selecting? Will you worry that your competitor provided them with a better experience, one that created greater value than the dialogue you’ve had and potentially created a preference to buy from them?
When your prospective client hires you to help them, are they going to be 100% confident that the decision is exactly right, and that you are the only person they would be comfortable moving forward with as a partner? Will the work you’ve done and the outcomes you provide them with earn you an absolute right to the next deal, without any risk that they would seriously consider someone else?
Hard Tests to Pass
If you aspire to be a trusted advisor, you are going to have to work towards answering yes to every one of these questions, developing the competence and confidence to believe you belong in the room where things are happening.
But these questions don’t just test your competency as a consultative salesperson: they also set a standard that you should be working towards. Always believe that there is more you could know, more you could share, and more you could do to improve your ability to execute the sales conversation.
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Filed under: Sales