With many of our clients it seems that there isn’t urgency to act. 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 buying. Dare to be different, in a good way. Seek out companies that are actively working to improve their conditions.
Start at the top, even if only to get approval to return to the top dog once others have put their stamp of approval on what you’re proposing. Use influence to motivate underlings by referencing your agreement with the top dog 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 the clutter. Ask the buyer to clarify what has to happen to get to a decision 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 this issue is on a scale of 1 to 10. Then pose that you thought it was a lower number and watch them defend, and then increase the rating, explaining to you why it’s more rather than less important and urgent.
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, etc.
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. Be prepared with facts about how others who have delayed have been negatively impacted. Competitive threats, being unable to lead a market, lost opportunity, lost market share, loss of employees who abandon ship if the company becomes an also-ran, are all problems to avoid. 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. Here’s what the leaders in the market are saying or doing on this subject:
• “By acting quickly, we got the respect of our peers.”
• “I could afford to ignore the issue, but that wouldn’t be smart, would it — who wastes money in this day and age?”
• “Without this we’d have had to spend millions fixing problems down the road and that’s a burden I’d never want
to put on my successors.”
• “If I hadn’t jumped on this I’d be looking for a new job right now.”
Make it exclusive for people who share your values. Instead of pushing prospects to buy, offer up the possibility that it may not be right for them and offer to withdraw. “Not everybody gets it. We create products (or 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, chances are the prospect will start to shift towards action.
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.