In last week’s newsletter, I talked about what needed to be in place before you conducted a successful Strategy Session (or selling conversation).
Today, I’ll give you an overview of the Strategy Session Itself which leads to landing a new client.
When I do a Strategy Session, it includes these 4 main steps.
1. Three categories of questions for the prospective client.
2. Assure them you can help
3. Answer their questions.
4. The 3 closes
OK, ready? Here goes! I’ll make it as simple as possible.
1. Three categories of questions for the prospective client
Perhaps 80% of a Strategy Session are questions you’ll ask the prospective client and listening to their answers.
First Question: This is about their situation. For instance: “Please tell me about your business, and who your clients are.”
The answer to this question immediately lets me know if they are someone I can help. You really need to be clear about who your ideal clients are and whether you have the experience to help them or not.
Remember, this is never one question and one simple answer and you move on. No, there are always many follow-up questions.
Let your interest and curiosity be your guide. “Tell me more about that. How does that work? What made you specialize in that area? etc.”
Second Question: “What challenges are you currently having that make it a priority to speak with me right now?”
If they don’t have any challenges, there’s no reason to talk. People buy your consulting, coaching, and training services because they have a challenge, something they can’t work out on their own.
Again, ask a number of follow-up questions to really understand their challenge, problem, or pain.
“How is that challenge impacting your business? What have you tried that hasn’t worked? Is there anything you’re doing that’s preventing you from resolving this challenge? What will happen if you don’t resolve this? etc.”
Third Question: “What are your goals, or what is it that you ultimately want to accomplish?”
Talking about challenges lets you know why they need help. But talking about goals motivates them to take action. I am not in the problem-solving business. I’m in the solutions implementation business.
So, find out what they really want once they solve their problem or challenge. What do they want their business to look like? What do they want their employees to be doing differently? What do they want productivity to look like?
Get them to tell you in very specific terms, not general ones.
Them: “I’d like my people to be more productive.”
You: “What exactly might that look like?”
Once you’ve asked these questions and gotten good answers, you should know whether you can help them or not.
You need to spend enough time with these questions until you really understand their situation, challenges, and goals. And they should feel that you have really listened and heard them.
2. Assure them you can help
“Alice, based on everything you’ve told me, I’m confident I can help you increase your employees’ productivity substantially. This is exactly what we do with our clients.”
No, this is NOT the time to go into a long sales pitch. Almost always a big mistake. No, you have asked questions and listened and then told them that you can help, and you’ve expressed this with confidence and sincerity.
3. Answer their questions.
“So you’ve read the information I sent you a couple of days ago on our Productivity Breakthrough Program. What questions do you have about that program and about how I work?”
This is why your Services Information Page is such an important part of this process. You let your written information explain in-depth what you do, how you do it, and what results they can expect.
Even with all that information, prospective clients will almost always have questions. So, you had better be prepared to answer them clearly and concisely!
And every time you answer a question, you “close on that question.”
“The program is conducted over a two-month period with your frontline supervisors. We’ll do a hands-on training session weekly and give specific instructions and practices for engaging in productive conversations.”
Close: “Does that make sense?” or “Do you see how that would be valuable in improving productivity?”
Look, you really need to know your stuff. And everything you do for your clients needs to be tied to a real result or outcome.
4. The 3 Closes
Now you know the prospect’s situation and you’ve answered all their questions. The question is, are they ready to work with you? To determine that, I do 3 closes.
Close #1: “Do you think this program/service is something you can succeed with?”
If they say, “Yes,” then they like what you are offering and think it will work for them. Then you can move on to close #2.
But often they will say, “I’m not sure, I have a few other questions.”
So answer those questions until they are satisfied with what you are offering. Then go to close #2.
Close #2: “OK, in order to succeed with this program/service there are a few things you’ll need to do.” Then tell them the conditions they’ll need to meet that will ensure their success.
Remember that the success or failure of any program depends more on the client than on you. They need to do certain things. When they agree to do these things, they become a partner with you in your service/program.
Some of these might include: “You’ll need to get buy-in from all your supervisors. You’ll need to carve out two hours per week for the program delivery.” And you need to close on all of those: “Will you be able to manage that? etc.”
Close #3: This is where you talk about your fees. I prefer to wait until the end after they’ve said that this program will work for them and they are ready to do what’s required to succeed.
“The fee for this program is $XX. Will that work for your budget right now?” This is what I say. It feels natural and comfortable. And if they can’t afford it, they’ll let you know.
Note that if you are selling your services to a large company, it can take more meetings and sometimes a proposal. But in any case, if you are speaking to the decision-maker, you can use the Strategy Session Process just as I’ve laid it out here with great success.
This Strategy Session Process is really simple. But to make it work, you need to customize your questions and practice them out loud. You can’t just wing it.