When I was eight years old, my Dad and I went to see some football clubs to find the right one for me to become a member. There were five clubs at a 15min bike-ride, so we set our eyes on these first. I will never forget my disappointment that we still hadn’t signed up after visiting three registration offices and filling in their enrolment forms. In my eyes, this took way too long. I just wanted to play football! But my Dad, a Sales veteran, explained his reasoning: “A membership should be a commitment for a long time, and hence we should look for the club who sees that, exactly as we do.” When we arrived at the third football club, we got what my Dad was looking for. Instead of sitting at a desk in the Administration Office, we were invited to visit the football pitch with an A-Junior Player. He gave me a football to kick along. We visited the Training Pitch, the Changing Rooms and were invited to sit down in the Grand Stand to watch a playing game. The A-Junior gave us brochures with Training Time-Schedule details and invited me to the training next Tuesday and Thursday. After that, the club’s Administer gave us a Club Magazine and some paperwork. He even invited my Dad to bring my Mum and brother to the training – he would be there to answer any questions we would still have by that time. I think you can guess that I joined that football club, and so did my brother and two of my best friends. We stayed members until we had to leave town for university.
When I now look back at this experience, it taught me a couple of things. One, the obvious: Buyers (my Dad and I) want to be treated like they would treat someone else. And two: As a salesperson, instead of focusing on closing the deal (like the administers of the first two football clubs), you are better off gaining small commitments from the buyer (like the third football club’s people did) that lead to a bigger deal. And this is the same in Sales. Look what you ask for from the buyer’s perspective. Instead of going too fast by asking them to consider your proposal and sign the deal, slow down and break the process into small steps.
At every step, you ask your contact(s) for a commitment, namely, THEIR TIME. IN EXCHANGE, you offer something valuable they need or are interested in. These small steps start from the very beginning – getting your prospect to agree to a meeting – until the very end – asking your prospect’s commitment to sign a contract and implement your suggested change. Let’s walk through these step-by-step:
|The COMMITMENT you ask = TIME.||What you OFFER in EXCHANGE =|
|To meet||(OPERATIONAL) Insights to make my job easier|
|(MANAGEMENT) Insights to improve company KPI’s|
|(EXECUTIVE) Insights to grow, to be more competitive, to improve profit|
|To explore change||Information and your help with achieving goals, leading to better outcomes|
|To involve others||Information and your help with facilitating change|
|To come to a consensus for change||Seeing the unique value that is helping stakeholders with achieving common company goals|
|To make a decision||A better strategic outcome at a greater ROI|
|To negotiate||A win-win outcome|
|To commit to change||A partner helping with implementation|
- When you first call your prospect, what you really do is asking your prospective buyer for their time to meet with you. They need something in exchange, namely, your offer to come to the meeting with ideas and insights to help them, whatever they are trying to achieve.
- At your first introduction meeting, you wouldn’t like to leave it by just one meeting. So, at one stage, you are asking your contact for more time to explore change. They will give you that if you promise to share more relevant information. B2B buying is more complex than you think, and they need your help.
- Involving other Stakeholders: At the end of the meeting, you can suggest, for example, “John, it seems you like what we have been discussing so far; who else in your organization has a stake in this?”. “Oh, that would be my manager Mary.” “Why don’t we get Mary into a next meeting together and hear her view on what we have been discussing so far?”. What you do here is facilitating change. You are helping John, who is in favor of a change. John may become a future Change Champion.
- At successive meetings with more stakeholders and your change champion, you will ask to reach a consensus. In exchange, you offer a unique value that can help the stakeholders achieve the common company goals.
- The big day has come, you will ask the buying group to decide; also, here is an exchange for time investment versus what you have to offer. The value you exchange here is a better strategic outcome at a greater ROI. In simple terms, value for money!
- When it comes to negotiation, buyers need to see the value for hours they will put into these negotiation rounds. No one would like to feel their time is wasted. The promise of a win-win outcome will get them to the negotiation table.
- While you feel you are so close to gaining a new customer, often buyers look at change as time-consuming. .To get that commitment to sign the contract, you let the potential customer know the value you trade; You are on their side, and you will do most of the heavy-lifting, acting as a partner, helping with the implementation.
Think about these small commitment steps at the next meetings with your dream prospect. Close every meeting by asking for a next commitment. Exchange what is needed and relevant at that time. The stakeholders will find their time well spent, and for you – well, you got your big deal and a new loyal customer.
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