How do you feel when the train is late? How do you feel when your flight is delayed? How do you feel when your mechanic says Tuesday, but your car’s not ready on Tuesday? How would you feel if you showed up at your college calculus class and their was a note on the board from the professor saying, “Went to the beach.”? Did you ever have a paper boy not deliver? Remember how it felt? How many jokes are there about contractors going over budget and past the timeline? How about the Big Dig? Massachusetts is a laughing stock? How many billions over budget? How many years late? Crappy quality. Still not done.
Whose fault is this? Why do buyers allow sellers to change the rules after the deal is done? Once the agreement is made, isn’t it done? Shouldn’t the seller deliver what they promised when they promised it in the manner that they promised it? Shouldn’t the buyer do their part in a timely manner? Provide input? Make decisions? Pay the invoice?
I ran a training session today. I started at 9 because that’s what I promised. I was in the room at 8:45, but I said 9. If I started at 8:59 and someone shows up at 9, they have the right to make me start over. The agreement was 9. I finished the agenda at 11. Someone might have to leave right at 11. I don’t want them to be late because I didn’t finish the class on time. I did stay later for the people that wanted to stay, but the official agenda was finished. What’s wrong with black and white? If someone orders a can of black and a can of white, isn’t that what they want? Do we have any right to deliver two cans of gray and hope it’s close enough?
I apologize for the tonality here. I guess the message is two-fold. When you are the buyer, want what you buy, buy what you want, and hold the seller accountable. When you are the seller, set the example.
If you haven’t already, you may want to re-read this. http://therainmakermaker.com/2006/07/03/inside-the-magic-kingdom-at-disney-world.aspx
I might be going through a change. Yesterday, I “stood in” for a client at his local BNI meeting. For those of you that don’t know the format, it’s 90 minutes of structured networking. Early in the meeting, the 30+ people in attendance give a 60 second “commercial” about themselves. I don’t know where it came from, but this was mine.
“How many people in the room have a product or service that they deliver to your customers or clients?”
Everybody raised their hands.
“How many people in the room have to sell a product or service to your customers or clients?”
Some people raised their hands.
“How many people in the room need your customers or clients to buy your product or service?”
Everybody raised their hands.
“Nobody likes to be sold. But everybody will buy if the solution will fix their problem and fit their wallet. Our job is to help them realize whether or not that’s true.”
“That’s what I do. I teach salespeople and providers that need to “sell what they provide” how to help their prospects buy.”
Everybody got it!
Like I said, I don’t know where it came from, but I realized that my clients don’t feel “sold” when we do business. They might feel relieved. They might feel hopeful. They might feel like they found and bought the right solution. Did I help? Probably.
Now I need to figure out what to call myself. I used to be a sales development expert. Am I now a “buyer facilitation expert”?
Surprise! I’ve been selling for a few years. I’m best known for the 20+ years that I spent in collections. As you can imagine, financial people asked for proposals all the time. I spent a few years selling energy conservation projects for an engineering firm. Why do some proposals win and some lose? What is the secret to writing a winning proposal? Can you tip the odds in your favor?
Only if you want to!
What kind of an answer is that? It’s the truth! You might find this hard to believe, but I’ve met people that are actually happy with a hit rate of less than 100%. Imagine this. Network. Network. Network….for hours to get business cards to call. Call. Call. Call…..for hours to schedule appointments. Meet with prospects and get to the point that they ask you for a proposal. Whether your proposals take an hour to generate or a week, if your hit rate is 80% (Congratulations, but) you’re wasting 20% of your time. If it’s 50%, you’re wasting half your time. If you’re only winning a third of your proposals, ask yourself, “WHY?” If you’re working a 40-50 hour week, you’re wasting 30-ish hours every week. If you have support staff (engineers, CAD, administrative), you’re wasting ⅔ of their time. Think about it. If you are the owner, the rainmaker in your company and you are only winning ⅓ of your proposals, you’re giving your kids college education to prospects that never buy from you. WHY?
Here’s the secret. Here’s how to fix the problem. Here’s how to stop wasting time. Here’s how to increase your odds. Here’s how to take the guesswork out of your pipeline, work flow, and cash flow.
It’s a three step process.
Step #1. Decide and believe that you want to.
Step #2. Identify prospect’s compelling need, establish urgency, develop speed on bases, qualify or disqualify yourself and your prospect regarding budget, decision process, timeline, terms, etc.
Step #3. Help prospect write the
proposal agreement. Have them sign it if it’s acceptable. If not, help them fix it. After they sign it, you sign it and ask them to make themselves a copy.
If at any point during the process, either you or the prospect disqualifies, leave gracefully. If a customer doesn’t want to write a proposal, they’re more interested in playing games than in getting fixed. Leave.
That’s it. That’s my process. If you need help getting it to work, call me. We’ll make a plan.
If you don’t think you can do it, re-read the whole post, but especially “Step #1.”
So, today I got the following email.
Bloggable Question: When I follow up with someone from a networking event, and they ask me to send some info about us, should I just laugh? Or should I try to ask a question before they hang up. The funny part is that I could probably really help them. But, they won’t really get the chance to find out about that.
There is no easy answer to this question. However, there are many questions.
Why are you calling them? Did they ask you to? Did they say something at the event that made you both agree to have a conversation? Why were they at the event? Are you calling everybody that registered or them specifically? What makes you think that you could help them? Do they have a problem?
Just because you have an awesome product doesn’t mean that people are gonna be happy to hear from you. As soon as you say, “Hello, my name is Joe Blow from So & So Company.” you are dead in the water. They stopped listening and they’re trying to figure out how to get rid of you. They might try one of the following. “I’m not interested.” or “Send me something.” or “Do you have a website?” or “We’re all set.”
Prospects don’t care about you, your company, your product, your benefits, your features. Stop telling. Start selling. It’s all about them. It’s all about them. It’s all about them.
I was talking with Jerry this week. I’ve known Jerry for a long time. He’s been selling for 30+ years and been selling boats for more than half of that time. He’s been through 3 kinds of sales training that I know of (not ours) and is among the strongest salespeople that I know. He sells a lot of little boats every year and usually 1-2 big boats. When he sells two big ones, he has a very good year. This week he was telling me about a “big one” that he was losing.
Here’s the story.
As you can imagine, a big boat takes months to sell. Lots of options. Get involved with the marina. Other family members. Jerry did his due diligence. He talked to the family members to make sure that their needs were met. He talked to the marina people to make sure that their needs were met. He talked to the boat manufacturer to make sure that they were OK with what he was doing. In this case, there was a last minute “docking issue” with the marina and when Jerry told the prospect, they cancelled the deal and told Jerry that they were gonna stay with their old boat.
Jerry didn’t give up! He talked to the marina people and the manufacturer. He talked to some other experts and he found a way to get it done so everybody was gonna be happy including himself! Great job, right? That’s when this story started for me. He told me this story and when I asked him what he was gonna do, he said, “I’m gonna call the prospect. Tell them that I fixed the problem and get a signature on the final order.”
Here’s the technique.
I suggested that rather than tell the prospect that he had fixed the problem, he tell them that he has an idea that might fix the problem and ask if they want him to try?
….If they agree, he needs to ask what happens if he fixes it, they’ll say that they’ll buy, or give him another problem. He has to get a list of all the obstacles that are in the way and an agreement that if he makes them all go away, they will buy the boat.
….If they don’t agree, he needs to acknowledge that the docking issue wasn’t the real problem and ask what the real problem is. Then, as above, he has to get a list of all the obstacles that are in the way and an agreement that if he makes them all go away, they will buy the boat.
If he cannot get them to agree to buy the boat if he handles all the obstacles, he has no deal.
Here’s the problem and the point.
Remember how I started. Jerry is a highly trained, very experienced, excellent salesperson. He knew the technique. As soon as I told him, he said, “Oh, yeah.” Why was he gonna do it wrong? He was emotionally involved. He thought the deal was done and was disappointed when it started to unravel. I saw it because, as a third party “coach”, I could look at it objectively. This deal has a $50,000 commission attached to it. I wonder if Jerry has ever lost one of these big deals when if he had talked to his coach, he could have gotten it? Do you think that Jerry should get himself evaluated to see if he has any other hidden issues that are costing him money? Do you think that he should hire me as an “on call” coach to assure that he never loses a deal that he should get?
One of the cool things about blogging is that you get to “meet” and interact with bloggers from “away”. I know that I have regular readers on the west coast, in Canada, England, Australia, Romania and a few other interesting places. I also have “friends” that I read regularly. Sometimes just to expand my mind. Sometimes to get involved.
John is one of those “friends”. A while back, he posted Putting the Customer at Ease (Redux). You can read his post and my comment. Today he posted again. I love the title. “JohnOnSales vs. the RainmakerMaker“.
By coincidence, Dave Kurlan, Brian Halligan, Mark Roberge and I have been discussing whether or not entrepreneurs are, in fact, prospective clients for David Kurlan & Associates. The jury is out. We all agree that they need it, but how do we help them realize that they do?
OK, pretend that you’re an entrepreneur. What do you want to hear?