Last week I explored the first steps in getting to "Third Base" in the selling process. Third Base is when your client is ready to buy your service. Next week I'll discuss getting from Third Base to Home.
But in this issue, I'll cover the final steps in getting to Third Base. Once you've made a connection, gotten focused, understood the prospect's situation and discovered their challenges, you need to learn their desired outcomes.
This transition in the selling conversation is pivotal. Why? Because your prospect starts using a different part of their brain. When you talk about their situation and challenges, they're just reporting on what's going on. When you get into desired outcomes (the future), you're calling on a more creative part of the prospect's brain.
This part of the brain has less exercise so it can take longer to answer questions such as: "If you could really have things the way you want, what might it actually look like?" or "If you get that result, where will it lead you, ideally?" and "What will it mean to you (or feel to you) to reach that goal?
Remember, people ultimately are buying the feelings attached to outcomes. So you need to get your prospects to talk about their feelings - ideally what they are excited about achieving.
- Failing to even ask those future-oriented questions
- Not getting more deeply into what those outcomes mean
- Talking too soon about how you'll help them get those outcomes
Presenting Your Services
Only when you've learned the situation, challenges and desired outcomes of your prospect, do you talk about what you can actually do for them. That's the presentation.
Your presentation or overview of what you offer needs to be based on the foundation you've covered so far: "To sum things up, this is your current situation, here are your challenges and here are the outcomes you're looking for... Does that give a pretty accurate picture?"
If yes, move on, if no, find out more.
What you do next depends greatly on the kind of service you're offering. If it's a weekly bookkeeping service, it should be rather cut and dried; if it's a multi-national change initiative, it's going to be much more complex.
But whatever your service, your objective in this meeting should be to present something they can take action on. For the bookkeeping service, you'll present what you do, how and when you do it and what it will cost. And then you close. Simple.
If it's a much more complex service, you can't usually close on the large-scale project right then; but you can discuss the details of the initial stage and get agreement on that: "To help you get this result, it will be a long-term project, as you know. But what we do first is a detailed project plan. This would entail the following... It would take this long and you'd get these results."
- Pulling out your computer and doing a one-hour Power-Point Presentation. Please, spare us all.
- Being vague and uncertain about what you will do.
- After asking all your questions, saying "OK, I'll put together a detailed proposal and get back to you in a week."
Sometimes the close is for the business itself, sometimes it's for the next steps you'll take. You can only close if the offer you've presented closely matches the objectives of your prospect.
A close is asking for a commitment from the prospect to move forward. If they say, "Yes," you are solidly on third base; they want to start, they want to do business with you.
So make it easy for them to say yes. Even if there are other details to work out such as timing and pricing, get agreement on moving forward in some way. Only then can you start the next step of going to Home Base.
"OK, that gives you a good idea of how I work and how this service will meet your objectives. The fee is $XX. Does that work for you?"
"The initial strategy plan will take about three weeks. The fee is $XX. Shall we look at our calendars to set up the first meeting?"
"I believe we agree on your objectives and how we can help you achieve them. Next we need to meet with your top managers and lean about their objectives. Shall we set that up now?"
- Forgetting to close or leaving things open-ended: "OK, let's both think about it and I'll get back to you later."
- Being too blunt in how you close: "Do you want to hire me?"
- Making the close too complicated: "If you agree to these seventeen steps, sign a non-disclosure and make a one year commitment, we can get started."
Next Week: Getting to Home - Pricing, proposals and negotiation.
The More Clients Bottom Line: Your presentation and your close need to be based on the objectives your prospect wants to achieve. Put the focus on helping them achieve their objectives and they'll want to work with you. Focus on your process and they'll want to think about it. Usually forever!
How do you present and close during the sales conversation? Please share on the Blog. Just click on the comments link below.