This past Friday I hosted a Fearless Marketing Mastermind session on Selling. Some of the material was so good, that I’d consider it a “Masterclass on Selling” and it’s summarized below.
The selection below is from Mark Thompson, who has consulted on strategy for more than 25 years, and it covers what to say in the early stages of the selling process. I’ve made a few edits, but it’s pretty close to what he said.
Setting the Stage for the Selling Conversation
First of all, I have three objectives. The first is to find someone who can buy, who has the authorization to write a check, second, someone who needs to buy, and thirdly, someone who wants to buy.
This narrows down the number of people I actually want to speak with and explore if my service is right for them.
Ultimately, for my business, I want to find “whales” where the larger the problem, the bigger the impact, and the more money I can earn.
Next, I want to shorten the sales cycle. I always say that time kills all deals. People die, someone gets promoted, companies get put into play… we have a pandemic… A million things can happen that can cause the deal to die.
The next step is to qualify, qualify, qualify.
I present a series of three issues at the very beginning to qualify the prospect, but I only want to qualify them in regard to the help and solutions that I am an expert at solving – nothing else.
If I don’t think I can help them with what my “sweet spot” is, where I can really make an impact on their business, I will tell them.
The Key Issues/Challenges to Surface in the Initial Selling Conversation
First I set up the conversation with the following:
“I don’t know if strategy is even on your radar right now, but when I talk to people like yourself about strategy and they appreciate having that conversation with me, it’s for one of three reasons.”
You have to figure out exactly what those three reasons/issues are where you can have an impact. You have to know what your differentiating value is; then you can come up with those three issues.
An example of those three issues/challenges: (You have to craft your statement of issues, depending on the service you offer and the clients you work with. But this will give you a good guide to go by.)
“My clients are frustrated that there’s not a common agreement in the company as to the future strategy of the business. That usually shows up as no growth or incremental growth.
“They’re sick and tired of saying yes to everything because they have no way to say no as they spend a lot of time chasing shiny objects. That usually shows up as a battle royal for resources.
“Or there’s not a seamless transition from strategy to execution. And the shareholders and owners are concerned that they’re not getting a return on their investment in an appropriate amount of time.”
Then I’ll ask if any of these issues are on their radar and even worth talking about?
They’ll usually pick one or more of them and I’ll ask them to tell me more about it and say, “That sounds important, is it?”
And if it is, I’ll ask them if they have their calendar. And I’ll set up a 60-90 minute meeting with them – with an agenda – where I ask them five very key questions about their business.
In that conversation, I can uncover their problems and pains as well as identify a financial metric between where they are and where they want to be. And then I ask them if that gap is big enough, if it’s a big enough problem to solve for me to work with them.
And after that meeting, I’ll have a good idea of whether I can help them or not and we can work on the next steps.
Mark goes into this in more depth, plus how to deal with the rules prospects follow as buyers of professional services. It’s actually pretty funny.
He also covers the most effective ultimate closing questions he uses to wrap up the selling conversation.
Be prepared to take copious notes! These are ideas gained from years of experience selling high-end services to big companies. And you can adapt his approaches to your situation.