Business Development Training: Do you have an outcome and plan in mind?

Vision without Action is a Dream
Action without a Vision is a Nightmare

I think lots of business development actions I hear of seem to be doing something but with no clear purpose or plan.
For me they fall into the Nightmare category.

Often in the context of business development people say things like
“I’m having lunch with…”
“I’m writing an article about…”
“I’m speaking at…”
“I’m going to this networking event”.

However they often don’t consider what’s the goal? And What’s the return on investment? is that activity for its own sake? Is it TAMO management (Then A Miracle Occurs) and business is generated.
We should really ask and “Then what? What happens next”?  Can we define a credible sequence of events that may lead to a desirable outcome?.

Here’s an example.

“I’m going to the XXYZZ Conference this November in Birmingham.”

With the conference fee, travel expense, and four days out of the office, that’s a pretty significant investment. Let’s ask what’s your goal for the event?

“My goals are to
1. Associate myself with the problem of the industry talent shortages.
2. I also want to find six people who are willing to discuss the topic in more depth with me after the event.”

What will you do between now and November to raise the odds of achieving those goals and justifying your investment?

“I’ll email my industry contacts to see how many are attending.
I’ll try to arrange to see them at a specific time/place during the event.
For those unable or unwilling to commit to that now, I’ll exchange contact details
and get permission to contact them after the event.”

Then what?

“I’ll develop a profile of the size and type of companies, and the key stakeholders within them, for whom my big enough to invest problem is likely important. ‘I’ll scan name badges looking for appropriate titles and appropriate companies; no match, no chat. I’m not networking; I’m hunting for prospects. After a minute or so of their response, I’ll graciously say I don’t want to monopolize their attention, and ask if it makes sense for us to continue the conversation after we return from the event.”

Then what?
“When I get home, I’ll send ‘follow up’ emails, reminding them of our topical discussion and that they thought it made sense to pick up the thread this week, and ask when it would be convenient to do so.”

Then what?
“During that discussion, after drilling down into the industry-specific topic, I’ll transition to exploring their company-specific version of it. If they acknowledge having the problem, or likely being subject to it before too long, I’ll learn the Cost of Doing Nothing. Assuming it’s significant, I’ll have confirmed that this is a legitimate sales opportunity. I’ll then begin the stakeholder alignment process to identify the core decision group and logical internal champion.”

That’s what I mean by having thought the first action all the way through to the desired outcome.
Will it play out like this?
Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly could play out exactly like this.
The point is that you’re no longer hoping for the best, but are now applying a considered strategy that requires only reasonably predictable responses to succeed.
At a large multi-day event, you should easily be able to come home with six legitimate prospects — which was your measurable goal.

The “then what” discipline isn’t just for major events and investments like conferences or trade shows.
You should do it for everything.
“I’m going to have lunch with Steve Jones.” Then what? Or, “I’m going to write an article for Computer News.
” Ok, then what? Or, “We’re meeting with CIO at XYZCo.” Then what?
If you can’t envision a sequence that results in getting what you want, the odds of it happening are miniscule.

Sales Training : Why? Why Now? Why You?

I’ve spent many days in Sales Training sessions where the usually very enthusiastic sales trainer
has absolutely insisted that in all major sales you have to meet the M.A.N.

For the uninitiated that does not necessarily mean a male person merely the person
male or female with the Money, Authority (to buy) and the Need . Hence M.A.N.

The trainers are right. When you can, you must meet the M.A.N.

However you now see a caveat to that from me and that’s the “When you can”.

Sometimes in large and medium sized companies the MAN does not want to see you.
Sometimes the people you are dealing with are a little frightened of her themselves and
they may not be sufficiently comfortable with you and your colleagues (you are after all Salespeople!!) to introduce you all to the MAN.

If the MAN’s door isn’t open and you can’t see her,  you now have three alternatives.

  1. Qualify the opportunity out because you will never meet the MAN
  2. Risk making yourself unpopular with your contacts and going straight to the MAN.
  3. Delegating responsibility to your contact and assisting them to sell internally.


I have never personally gone for the first option.
Perhaps my sales funnel has never been full enough of prospects you say,
and I have only on a few occasions tried the second option with mixed results.

That therefore leaves us option 3.

If we are going to go for that option we do need to be careful with our assumptions here.
There are many dangerous assumptions that we can make here and they’ll all get us nowhere.

  1. That your prospects have a robust process of building a business case for doing anything different.
    This could be like buying a new product or outsourcing a service or whatever your company does.
  2. That your prospects have a method or criteria for choosing between possible suppliers
  3. That the person you are working with in your prospect is a decent SALES person.
  4. That the person you are spending time with knows the buying process and it’s people

That means that we can take option 3 but we need to do it professionally.
We need to DELEGATE responsibility not ABDICATE responsibility.
Let me explain what I mean.

Abdicating responsibility would be to send a boiler plate proposal that talks about us and not them.
Adding the standard sales blurb about our solutions in general not specifics and a quotation.
Then we can follow up with a phone call or an email a week until we think that they might now be thinking of us as stalkers not sales people…
That would be ABDICATING responsibility …

DELEGATING responsibility to our contact is very different and we make the following assumptions

  1. Assume that they have NOT built a business case for buying your product or service or anything like it.
    This means that you will have to build a business case using their numbers, which you will have to help to dig out,
    for both potential costs and potential business benefits.
    This exercise will have to answer the WHY? And The WHY NOW? questions
    A cynical and suspicious Finance Director, who will be part of the decision making process
    somewhere along the lines, will want these answered.
  2. Assume that the person we are working with is NOT a sales person.
    They have never been on a sales training workshop and may not have presented their ideas before.
    That means we need to give them a PowerPoint based presentation not a WORD document
    This will be more useful if they are going to present their idea to someone.
    Your quotation is important but the quantified benefits are much more important and the references need to be in there too.
    You need to ask your contact to find out what the buying process is and who is involved.
    Tailoring the presentation that your contact will make to make sure the messages resonate with all in the process will exercise your sales skills.
  3. Assume this presentation must also have enough detail on WHY YOU?
    to make it obvious to an uninvolved person that you are the right choice.
    Probably best to use their logos on the slide deck rather than make it in your corporate colours that could appear biased ?

A final thought … If marketing knew that this was how the majority of your sales completed would they build you some different tools to use on your journey with the prospects??

Sales Training – Rainmaking: Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know?#1

Is it a Feature or a Benefit? How do you know ?

This came up again last week in a Sales Training workshop.
This time to a group of experienced business advisors.
Mostly Grey-Hairs, like me ?

We were on the Workshop session called Building your Compelling Business case…

There was lots of push back voiced as
“You don’t understand”
“People buy from people”
“They’ve got to trust you to go on the journey with them”
“It’s not just about the numbers”
“You can’t ask these kind of questions because they won’t know the answers” …

I have to say that for most of it I did say that I was in “Violent Agreement” …

However I did stand my ground and we agreed that at some point in the buying selling process that there is a “Weigh-In”
In the red corner is the COSTS AND RISKS to the business of going ahead with the project.
In the blue corner there are the BENEFITS to the business of going ahead…

Our job, I would suggest, is to help them and us to QUICKLY assess whether the Blue outweighs the Red…

If the Red outweighs the Blue then we need to move on quickly.
Why? Because unless TAMO selling is your trade (Then A Miracle Occured) your chances of success are low.
You will need to find a new prospect because this one won’t give you the deal you seek.

A little on Features VS Benefits
Working definitions…
A feature is a fact, detail, or description about your services.
A benefit is the positive result your client achieves from working with you.

Simple? Hmmmm Sometimes features sound suspiciously like benefits.

A few examples:
An IT consultant: He says “I help small businesses that are losing time and money due to computer problems.”
Sounds like a benefit. Looks like a benefit. It has money and time in the sentance..
Ahhhh NO it’s actually just a description of the consultant’s target market: businesses with computer problems.
That’s a feature of the consultant’s business.

A graphic designer: “I produce creative and attractive logos, business cards, and brochures.”
Should be obvious. It’s describing a feature…

A management consultant says “We conduct Strategy Planning Workshops using the Rainmaker Accelerate Process”
Describing the process they will use rather than the results is often a trap fallen into by services focused people …
Sorry again, this is a feature.

Is there ever a time to talk about features?
Certainly. Describing features can help you attract the right clients and let them know you have what they are seeking.
A copywriter who specializes in direct mail and ad copy should say so to distinguish himself from someone who writes primarily for websites and brochures.
An accountant who primarily serves business clients rather than individuals should make that clear.
But once you’ve covered the basics of who you serve and what you provide, it’s time to tell your prospects what they’ll get from working with you.

Ok Ok tell me then what is a benefit?
I believe that a Benefit can only come in 5 forms and answers these questions…

1. To what extent does what you do result in your client growing their revenues?
Finding new markets?
Getting to market quicker?
Getting to more prospects sooner?

2. By how much does what you do typically result in your client reducing their cost per transaction?
(Their costs may go up but their costs of processing an order etc should decrease)
Could they get more use out their assets?
Can they produce more with less effort?

3. In what way does what you do typically increase your clients employees productivity and engagement in the business
Can their employees do things faster (Pen vs Computer?)
What processes can be automated / Done away with?

4. In what way does what you will do with your client enable them to satisfy the needs of their clients?
Happier employees deliver better service to clients who become loyal and buy more at a lower cost of sales…

5. How do you enable your client to be compliant with the law of the land / Standards in place at the time?
Sarbannes-Oxley in the accounting world.
Disability access to buildings in offices

Don’t miss next times exciting episode when we give you a real example of a case of Benefits….

Sales Training – Rainmaking: Cross-selling is a major challenge for many companies.

Cross-selling is a major challenge for many companies.

Bringing in new customers is expensive.
According to research by Bain & Company, it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing customer.

So why do so many companies still have untapped opportunities for growing existing accounts

and yet they find capturing those opportunities so difficult

and  What is it that the successful cross-sellers do differently?

Here are our views..

1. Asking more Questions than their Competitors

Giving key people good sets of questions that will uncover opportunities
This rather than trying to get them to learn ALL about YOUR many services and their respective benefits
By doing this you force your team to be Interested in your clients businesses
This will feel really great for your clients
Your team will uncover buyers’ needs and drive demand for your existing services offerings.
After all there is No point asking a question about a service you don’t offer.
The most successful companies at cross-selling know where they provide value.
They discover what the customers issues are and they by asking questions create opportunities to connect the two.

2. Develop Strong Relationships up and down and across your clients organisation

Have objectives for account team members that measure how many relationships they’ve established
Viewing relationships as “our company to their organisation” as well as “me to my client.”
Develop deep relationships with their customers. That way when someone leaves the business still flows.
Your team are viewed by the clients as essential, Trusted and the “GoTo” people.

3. Have the Right Team and add to it if opportunities emerge

Once you discover an opportunity you need a great process for co-creating value with customers:
Successful Cross-sellers quickly assemble the right players on their team and work collaboratively with the client to construct new ways of delivering value.
High performers are much more likely to cite “creating team-based approaches” as effective for growing accounts.

4. Use Account Management Processes and Planning Tools

Having an effective strategic account planning tool and process is essential.
Develop the plan , execute the plan, review the plan and learn and repeat

5. Develop both Account Management Skills and Sales Skills

You will need strong sales skills somewhere on the team to be able to close the opportunities you create or your process and plan may fail

For many companies trying to adopt this approach may well mean an overhaul of culture and processes…

Maybe that’s perhaps why companies find cross selling so hard.
What do you think?


Sales Training – Rainmaking : Handling the Price Objection (and others)

Handling the Price Objection (and others)

“A person’s worth in this world is estimated according to the value they put on themselves.” Jean De La Bruyere

or if you prefer “If you really do put a small value upon yourself,
rest assured that the world will not raise your price”- Anonymous

“Your fees are just too high”
or  “We have an offer from someone who will do it for less”
or “I don’t see why I have to pay all that money just to have you create a plan”

When we hear those things said…How many of us try simply to lower our fees to get the work?
Especially if we are selling ourselves to deliver the service

However once we lowering our fees for a particular piece of work, we have established our value at that lower amount.
As above If we put a low value on our own work, certainly no one else is going to suggest our value is any higher.

Why do so many of us do this?

Let’s take a look at where objections fit into professional services selling.

Often an objection is seen as a sign of rejection.
However most objections can be overcome with a little effort.

Objections signal usually one thing.
There’s some kind of barrier to overcome in the mind of your prospective client.
Other objections, on the other hand, may simply be questions that have yet to be answered.
Others may be a true obstacle that may need further investigation to truly understand and a modification made to the plan

Your objective: Test if the objection is real and if so overcome it somehow:

We suggest that you might use our 4 C’s approach

1. Clarification :
Ask lots of questions to help you really understand the issue being raised
Listen with two ears and one mouth!
Establish that it’s real and not game playing or negotiating.
Explore the implications and knock-on timing effects

2. Communication:
Play back to your prospect (Parrot-Phrase not Paraphrase here!)
Say back to them what is your understanding of what they just said
Revisit the benefits and roi of the project. Do they really believe their numbers?
Reiterate and your track record of delivering

3. Co-Creation:
Work with them to come up with a solution that does not mean you drop your price.
Explore with them different options on payments
Explore different ways of delivering the benefits and changing the price or phasing of payments
Remember you are equal partners on this, you have a business too.
Ask yourself (a bit late) if you dealing with the right level of person here

4. Confirmation:
Get them to say that this solution is acceptable and there are no further objections.

Then … If all of these tactics still don’t work and you still firmly and confidently believe you have fairly priced your products and services…
and provided the solution you know will help the prospect….
And your prospect says “Your fees are too high” . We suggest that you are in the wrong place.
Walk away. Head held high.

Go find someone who does appreciate what you do. And will pay for it.

Realise that it’s you who are giving away free consulting

How to avoid giving away free consulting.

If you are a consultant, a consultative sales person or a coach, when you meet a prospect for the first time if you are like many people you are desperately trying to bring value.
You want to show that you know your stuff .
You fall into “consulting mode” and start doing the project for free.
You notice that the client is frantically making notes.
They are asking for the things you are showing to be sent by soft copy.
Then you wake up and realise that you are giving away your precious time by delivering  unpaid consulting.

You may have just stepped over the line.
The line between doing what you need to do to sell your services and giving free consulting.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind when your keeness to impress takes over.
They may keep you on the right side of the line, allow to deliver value to your prospects and help you win the projects you want.

Tip #1 :  Watch out for the client open questions …


“What would you do if you were me?”
“What specific steps would you take in what sequence?”
“How would you suggest we overcome this?”

If you start answering those questions with details, you can find yourself  in free consulting land.
Be ready with an answer to those kind of questions … Try
“Right now I don’t know enough about your situation to answer that question…
However the first step we’d take after you decide to employ us is…”

Tip #2: Resist the urge to solve problems early

No one forces consultants to lay out solutions to a client’s problem.
However we all occasionally feel an urge to solve them.
We really enjoy it. It’s who we are and what we do.
However if we do it now …
We just lost track of the real reason for this conversation and that’s clear and simple.

Is there a here project to work on?

We think our willingness to consult will help win the deal.
We also know that whatever we say it’s premature and probably of little value.

Tip #3 Frame and Reframe the problem but don’t solve

Your client brings a tough problem to you. You have to
1. Understand the issue(s)
2. Define the scope of the effort
3. Frame and Re-frame the project to suit your approach
4. Work out with the client the value of resolving the issue.

Discuss these and you’ll demonstrate your fitness to do the work.
Plus, you’ll uncover everything you need to move the project forward to a proposal.
Do this type of project “Re-framing” at no cost.

If clients presses you for alternatives, say something like,
“I want to work with you on this issue, and I have ideas on how we can proceed.
However I don’t know enough yet to give you answers that you and I would be comfortable are the right ones.”

Frame and Re-frame a project for free.
Offer consulting services for a fee.

Tip #4 Define Boundaries and then Stick to them

Watch out for those clients who call (repeatedly) to get additional, unpaid help with a project.
Flattering isn’t it?  You take  it as a sign of trust and a strong relationship?
Easy to want to pitch in and help?
But you can easily cross that line again.

We suggest that you let your clients know they can contact you any time.
Be ready to take their calls or respond to emails.
Think about putting a time limit on “free help” ..
“30 days after we complete the project you can ask us questions for free”
Resist taking on unpaid work that requires extended effort.
You know the kind of work, editing a report or creating a new document, no matter who asks.
Let your clients know politely but firmly that you’re not able to take on such tasks without starting a paid project.

Most will understand the validity of boundaries.
Those who don’t are probably best left to someone else.

We think you can probably never really eliminate all unpaid consulting from your business.
However a good first step is to recognise what you are doing to create the situations where it thrives.

Good Rainmaking

Sales Training – Rainmaking: The Compelling Proposal

Presenting your Compelling Business case in your proposal

“Thank-you that all sounds good. Would you send me a proposal?”
As a business developer when you hear those words, you’re pretty happy.
Usually it signifies that you’re close to the finish line.
However for lots of people those words carry a little warning.
There’s still a lot of work to do, and it could be all for nought.
How do you make sure your proposal stands out and is read?
Most importantly your client takes action and takes action now?
How do you make sure you don’t waste your time?
(we cover this in our Sales Training Workshops)
Here are a few principles and ideas for you to increase your success rate.

Our first principle is No Surprises please!

Often salespeople withhold prices until the proposal. Don’t. It should confirm in writing everything you’ve discussed, in one document that can be acted upon. The selling job should have been done. If it hasn’t then you must “Present” your proposal not send it. You should not be using the proposal to make the business case to your buyer. Go back in and talk it through face to face.

In most of the cases that we meet in our sales training this is the key “failure-point” in the selling process. Every sales trainer will always tell you that you have to present to the board of directors… That sounds great and we’d encourage you to try but in our experience it very rarely happens. So at this key point in the sales process the trained sales person hands over to the untrained buyer. You must pass the baton to your buyer. With your proposal in hand, your buyer must now do the selling. They will have to go and get the necessary internal approvals to move forward with the project.

Our second principle is Write for the Final Decision Maker, not Your Buyer

Now you understand the idea of passing the baton you need to change the nature of your proposal. Up until now you’ve developed a pretty good relationship with your buyer. However you are not going to send your proposal to your buyer. You are going to give it to them, they in turn are going to sell it to the Decision Making Unit. At this point try to make sure that your buyer and you understand how the approval process works. From now on you work alongside your buyer. They are your channel partner and route to the DMU.

Our third principle is It’s not really about you…  it’s about them

Think about what you’re really proposing. Please don’t get hung up your credentials. You have to stay focused on the results your buyer wants from you. How will what you do improve their performance? Far too many proposals begin with, “ABC Company is pleased to submit this proposal… ” As a test to see.. is your proposal more them focused or you focused, count up how many times do you mention your company name and theirs in your proposal

Remember, it is highly unlikely you will be present when the final decision is made. People who you have never met you will decide your fate. Your value must now be represented by your proposal.

Our fourth principle is to Ask yourself… How do managers and executives in companies choose great projects?

Making business growth happen by extracting value from investments is what management is all about. They have to try to work with business cases that contain objective, compelling and effective information. This kind of information allows them to choose the projects with the best financial returns for their companies.

We hope you now realise that your project isn’t just competing with your competitors… It has to compete with everything else on the companies wish list, new office furniture, buildings maintenance, computer systems etc etc Your case, does therefore, have to speak to the decision makers in their language.

Idea 1. Try Summarize the Business Case and answer five questions!

A good business case provides answers to five simple to ask questions: What is the business pain point? What are we proposing to do? What will be doing differently from project go-live onwards? How much is the investment going to be worth? What metrics do we use in order to make the investment measurable?

Idea 2. Use Scenarios

Firstly use your experience (they are buying this too!) and make reasonable and educated assumptions. You may have some factual data. (e.g., number of employees). You may have to make assumptions in other areas. Make the assumptions clear. Talk about a “best-case” and a “worst-case” scenario.

Idea 3. Link Each of your Benefits “Cause” to an “Business Effect”  and suggest a KPI

Make it easy for your non sales trained , internal representative to justify the operational impact (cause and effect). Make it clear how it may affect the company’s performance. For any given Benefit something will change to indicate improvement. What  is it? That’s the KPI you suggest. With the KPI the executives will have the ability to measure the progress of any implemented initiative.

Idea 4. Discuss what happens if no action is taken

If the investment is not made, what could happen to the company’s bottom line? Could the company lose customers? Or market share? Could some future costs be avoided if the investment is made today?

Idea 5. Show how the project connects and aligns with the Company’s Strategic Goals

Even if your project has a high ROI, it may not move if the proposed solution does not align with the company’s strategic goals.

Let us know… How does your proposal process stack up with the above? We are always looking for example compelling business cases to share in training sessions . If you think yours is a good example please send it to us. We suggest you change any of your customer names to the ABC company first though. ?


Sales Training – Rainmaking: Socially self concious and reluctant to see Senior Execs?

Are you suffering from a reluctance to spend time with senior executives?

Do you find that you are most comfortable with people who you believe are equal to you?
Does that mean that you can’t go in a see a CEO? A VP Manufacturing?
Stuck with the Network manager? Not worthy to see the CIO?

Do you suffer from the “Impostor Syndrome”?

(Feel that people will find out that you are not as bright as them)

Here are a few suggestions that you may like to try to work through this …
We cover some of this type of topic in our Business Development and Sales Training Workshops
By the way unless you went to “Slough Comprehensive” (Eton Public School to the rest of us) we all go through it. ?

1.  Get over your personal social status hang-ups:

If you tell yourself anything like what’s below here, you’re not just in trouble.
You’ve lost the game before getting on the field.

  • I’m not interesting enough
  • I don’t provide enough value to be worthy of senior executive attention
  • I’ll just be too nervous;
  • I’ll mess up
  • Senior executives’ time is more important than mine
  • Senior executives aren’t my peers
  • Senior executives don’t want to be friends with me
  • I don’t want to be friends with senior executives
  • I shouldn’t talk about, or ask about, anything personal
  • I won’t get through so why bother trying

The greatest barriers to establishing ongoing, rich relationships with senior executives are personal hang ups.
If relationships with top people are what you want, don’t psyche yourself out of your chance.

2.  You are an Equal behave like one:

Don’t come across as inferior to a senior executive.
Don’t come over as being superior or arrogant either. Equal is fine

In order to do this you must have confidence in the value you can offer from a business perspective.
You must have confidence in yourself too.

3.  You need to be relevant to the business of the senior exec:

Find out what’s important to your senior executive.

Read up about issues in the business . Get an annual report, read the chairman’s statement if it’s a plc.
Do you homework at the levels below your executive and make some educated guesses at what may be worrying them and for goodness sake ASK.
How about you go to your Senior execs and get them to tell you what keeps them awake at night?
Be curious and interested.

Don’t just focus on problems. You’ll find people who are looking for business growth, innovation, and competitive advantage.
Executives seek ideas that will be “the next big thing” for their business and their agenda.
Bring these ideas to the table and you’ll be on your way.

4.  Remember senior executives are people just like you.

They have emotions and personal interests.
CEOs have kids, like sports, want to be seen as successful, are passionate about politics.
They want to retire, drink pina coladas and walking in the rain and read detective novels on by the pool.
In my experience if you walk into a meeting looking for 2 areas of common ground you’ll find them.
If you don’t you won’t. and when you do the common ground can last a long time.

5.  Have a good conversation:

Don’t ask questions you should know the answer to if you’d bothered with research.
Don’t go on about anything for too long.
Be Interested first, Listen hard and well. Provide ideas. Be prepared. Know your stuff.
Don’t have more than 6 Powerpoint slides to describe anything.

6.  Be determined:

It might take a while, don’t give up grit your teeth.
Sometimes you will only get there through trusted connections.
Work up through lower-level contacts collecting data as you go.
Sometimes reaching out directly works.
Not mailshots think tailored emails or even a letter.
When did you last get a well written letter in business?
Do it enough and you’ll get through to some execs.

7. Create a reputation as the “Go To” expert in your area.

Create relationships with other executives and influential people and put them together in your presence or not.
Make sure anything you put forth is of the highest quality. All of these signal you’re in the right league.

Sales Training – Rainmaking: Overcoming Inertia

I’d like to venture that given our experience at Sales Training the biggest competitor that keeps beating your sales team is called Inertia.

That’s the force that makes people sit on their hands and do absolutely nothing.

At forecasting time your sales people will be saying something like
“Well it’s not gone away, However she’s been in meetings and her mobile goes to voicemail.”
After the next couple of times they’ve said that… They’ll quietly forget it and take it off of their forecast..

So what can you do to help them?

At your next Sales Training meeting Coach them to get the prospect to answer the “So What?” Question.

We are going to assume that they have gone through a process of getting the prospect to write down their Pains and Problems.
Your people should also have taken them through the “Present State to Desired state exercise” .
The discussions should have been outcome focused not problem focused thinking.
There should now be a decent case for the business to go ahead with what you are proposing.
Both parties in the discussions should have an idea of what it will cost, how long it will take, what risks and who’s going to be involved.

Now you get them to play devil’s advocate
or perhaps you as their manager can attend a joint appointment with them and you play that role?

The questions the devil’s advocate all follow along the lines of getting the prospect to answer the question ‘So What?’ ?
If your problems don’t get resolved, so what?
If you don’t solve these problems what is it that won’t happen?
Will the problems get worse? How quickly?
How will they affect the bottom line of your company,(Division, Department)?
If your outcomes doesn’t become reality soon, so what?
What if the initiative drops by the wayside never to be mentioned again? Will anyone notice?
If the outcomes do become reality, how much better will your competitive position become?

Please stay alert for a “So What” answer that can be personally motivated
(e.g. the client will get promoted to Director if your service works out well)
However more commonly you’ll get more ammunition for your
compelling ( We need to this  now) business case rather than the bland ( I need to do this sometime) business case

Let us know how you get on

Sales Training – Rainmaking: All the way to the decision then … nothing

What do you do when you’ve got the prospect all the way to the edge and they hover there…
You may be a sales person and you can’t seem to close the order.
You may be a business advisor and you’ve come up with an achingly compelling business case for the client to take action and yet inertia kicks in

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
The metaphor is obvious, you can’t TELL people to do anything. (Unless you are in an army?)

If you have a teenager to hand… try telling them what to do.
In my experience their critical filter will kick in immediately and tell you how they can’t do it.

Human Nature and the case of the Critical filter

When you try to sell or TELL a client or to “persuade” them or maybe to get them to take your most excellent advice…
Firstly take a look at your own motivation.

If you’re like most honest people you’re trying your best to add value, to listen, to come up with great ideas.
You’re trying to identify pain points and to clarify objectives and outcomes.
All to be highly commended. However your inner voice is screaming:
”Just Do IT! ”. And that may be the problem:

The leading the horse to water part is complete and you may even have followed a great sales process.
The problem comes in making the horse drink. Because people will not do what you want them to do.
They only do what they want to do.

Try this test on yourself.
When someone TELLs you to do something, what’s your unconscious and instant instinct?
If you’re like most people you have a critical filter which kicks in, a nanosecond after they finish telling you.
It works out very quickly how that won’t work here and tells them that.

And what if they pretend they don’t actually care if you do the thing they want you to do – what’s your instinct?
Do you suddenly find you’re very thirsty?

So if you are a pursuader you can do a few things but they all amount to giving control over to the person or the horse.
Make it clear that you are there to help but they need to buy.
The technique is to stop selling and try getting the prospect to buy.

1. Ask a Question: “But sorry I get so wrapped up.
I need to keep reminding myself that this isn’t my business, you’ll get the benefits we talked about not me.
It’s your business… what do you think?”

2. Tell a story: ” I know the OkiKoki company (in a similar line of business) made these changes and it took them a little longer to get the benefits.
But that’s their business and yours is very different.
How quickly do you think you might get there?

3. Make a Suggestion: “I can only suggest these ideas to you.
I realise that it’s up to you to choose your own way to do this.
We’ll be around to support you but I understand this is your decision.
What do you think of the suggestions?

These are our suggestions. Just drop your critical filter for a moment and see if they make sense to you .

Then tell us …. How do you get people hovering on the edge to buy from you?