Traditional sales approaches taught you to speak to the decision maker, do your sales pitch and close deals. Hard closes, soft closes, it didn’t matter as long as you brought in the revenue. Fast forward to the present; achieving your sales targets remains the case. However, the method to get deals signed is a different story. In modern selling, you are much more effective when using the power of gaining small commitments.
Let’s look first at the different challenges you face as a salesperson nowadays, followed by some practical examples of the power of gaining small commitments.
You Face Different Challenges
Regardless of the size of opportunities, the way buyers buy has changed. Your challenge is not to influence one but several stakeholders. They all have the task of contributing ideas that help their company prosper. This means:
- Your business idea competes with their ideas. There are always potential Hidden Competitors.
- Every stakeholder has their own processes and IKOs to look after. How do you bring them to what they have in common?
- Unfortunately, you do not talk to all key stakeholders. How do you reach them?
- Moving too fast in your sales process will leave key stakeholders behind in their buying process. How do you slow down and leave no one behind?
Gaining small commitments will help you to overcome these challenges. Let’s look at some examples:
Small commitment nr. 1: Involving Other Stakeholders
Catherine, a Marketing Manager, likes your business idea of targeting customers in markets directly where the internet traffic is currently high. Although the Marketing Manager favours pursuing this further with you, people in Operations may not jump to the idea. Why? Because they need to change their process of sending smaller shipments directly to these customers instead of in bulk to warehouses and wholesalers. Advance your opportunity by asking for a small commitment from the Marketing Manager. Eg
“Catherine, what I understand from our discussion so far is that you like this business idea. I can only imagine that for this to work, things may need to be dealt with differently in Operations. I have some ideas on how we can help. Who do you think should be part of the next conversation?
Most likely, Catherine will give you a name: that will be Simon. You: shall we book the three of us for next week Monday after lunch?
Small commitment nr. 2: Influencing the CFO
You: “Catherine, now Simon from OPS is on board; what are our chances of pitching the idea to Gary, your CFO”?
Catherine: “I am not sure if I am ready for that. He is more of a numbers guy”. You: “That’s not uncommon for CFOs. I have helped other similar customers build a business case before pitching it to senior management. A make-sense business case will increase your chances of winning people over who love to hear numbers.
It needs to include the research on which the business idea is based and estimates of expected orders. Would that help”? Catherine: “Absolutely”. You; “I have just sent you such a case study. It’s in your inbox. What if you forward that to Gary while we build some numbers together”? Catherine: “OK, I like it”.
Small commitment nr. 3: Get the First Meeting
Let’s go back to how you got the meeting with Catherine. Instead of asking if you could introduce yourself in a twenty-minute meeting (the old way of selling), you got the appointment by Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective; you traded business value for a small commitment… Catherine’s time:
Hi Catherine, I am (name), from (name). I am calling today to ask you for a twenty-minute meeting to share with you a business idea that will drive your products and revenue at a relatively low investment. It is a growth initiative based on analyzing your website traffic, which I already did for you. What does this Thursday look like for a twenty-minute executive briefing?
Catherine agreed to meet because you offered to help her with a business idea that drives her objective in trade for twenty minutes. What could she lose?
Every commitment you ask for must create value for your customer. Making these commitments small will increase your chances of getting a “Yes!” Apply the power of gaining small commitments in your next customer meetings.