I will never forget when I was out with one of my sales reps, Erica, visiting a prospect for a follow-up call. We got to the reception and Erica asked for Mr. Buzon, who she had met only one week ago. After waiting for five minutes the receptionist said that Mr. Buzon is not available today, he has been called into an emergency meeting. Erica was asked to contact Mr. Buzon again to set up a new meeting. Despite calling back several times, Erica informed me that she was not able to get another appointment. I asked: What did Mr. Buzon commit, to last week when you left their building? Ok, at the moment the more appropriate question is: What will your prospect do after you end the Zoom or Skype or phone call? It is a very relevant question and one that salespeople do not ask themselves enough.
When coaching sales executives often sales managers ask: “When do you think you can close the deal?”. In the new way of selling and in the new way of coaching this is actually the wrong question. What would be a lot more helpful is asking “What commitment did you get from your prospect at the end of your meeting?”. Gaining commitments is the new closing. The level of commitment you get from your prospect depends on the level of value you trade in exchange. What are the main five commitments you should look for at the end of your meeting?
The commitment to explore change. The prospect is open to exploring change because you have shared relevant insights or a new perspective that got them thinking about their own status quo. They wonder “Do we currently have the right set-up to achieve what we are trying to achieve?”
The commitment to involve other stakeholders. Your contact person agrees that fixing their status quo is not going to help them with reaching their growth targets. Their company needs to make drastic changes but he or she is not in a position to make these decisions alone. More people need to be involved to hear your views and more importantly how you can help.
The commitment to come to a consensus. Stakeholders have their own agenda, but what they have in common is the success of the company. The value you trade is a focus on linking their common business goals to risks of not changing and opportunities when changing for the sake of the company.
The commitment to make a decision. Here you offer to help with a solid business case for change. It should include ROI and clear strategic advantages when making a change. What the stakeholder group wants to hear and see, is clarity on what they buy and the impact on their business.
The commitment to commit to change. Companies may have been with suppliers for decades, and although your case for change is solid, there are many unknown variables that can hold the change back. The value you trade here is that you will do the legwork, you will be their right arm, you act as a team member to ensure all users are able to switch swiftly with you as their new main partner.
The prospect’s commitment level can be categorized as Opposer, Ally, Change Champion, or Neutral. But that is another story. For now, I hope you agree that gaining commitments is really the new closing. Ask yourself, what will my prospect do, after I have left the building? What have they really committed to?
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