I was conducting a sales training session with a group a couple of weeks ago and the topic was on running effective sales appointments. I am a consultative sales manager and trainer, and I implore my teams to spend a lot of time in asking the right questions and then using that info to build customized solutions for their clients.
My workshops are very interactive and I encourage conversation (and sometimes outright debate) over the concepts that are being presented. One of the sales people in the room was adamant about taking multiple options for the client to consider, saying that he learned that tactic years ago and it had always worked well for him. While that approach is common and can be occasionally effective, there’s an inherit problem with the “Chinese menu” style of proposals.
I believe that you must use the client’s previous input and build one targeted, unique, and impactful proposal for them to consider. If they have options they want to add or changes they want to make to the proposal, great! The more you involve them in building the solution the better! However, presenting three or four options or packages shows a lack of commitment on the seller’s part as to the belief they have in the effectiveness of their plans.
As our discussion continued about the topic, I said a phrase that had never come out of my mouth before. That is saying a lot because I’ve spoken to over 50,000 people across the country and conducted hundreds of workshops, and I’m always coming up with new ways to get folks attention and encourage them to change. The line I uttered was “Look, I don’t have a dimmer on my ideas, I have a light switch.” As soon as I said it, I watched several folks write it down and then the questions started. “What do you mean?” “How does that work?”
My Light Switch explanation went like this:
1- Listen Waaaay More Than You Talk – If you ask the client the right questions and then listen intently, take notes and ask proper follow up questions – without trying form the solution already in your head as you are asking the questions! – you will receive all the data you need to form the basis for your solution and presentation.
2- Involve Your Team in Brainstorming – Take the info you have gleaned from your client and gather the members of your team that have input into making your solution a reality. Without prejudice, share the findings from your client and get input from everyone in the room. White board the ideas, run a fun “no holds barred” brainstorm session, or if you must, consult each member of the team individually and get their input.
3- Let the Evidence Speak for Itself – If you did your job in the client interview and then allowed plenty of great ideas to flow during the team session, you should be well armed to form the best solution for the client. Look carefully at your notes, use your experience and intuition, and have the courage to build ONE UNIQUE SOLUTION for the client!
4- Flip the Switch to ON When You Present – The key to running the presentation appointment effectively is to be passionate about the solution or idea you have come up with. With all the data you have collected, the solution should be crystal clear. Even if it’s not, however, you must present your idea as the one, best, most effective path to success for the client.
5- Ask for Client Input – You definitely want client feedback after you present your idea because you want them to buy into the proposal as much as possible. The delicate balance is to believe deeply in your solution but to still be open to input from your client. However, you are the engineer of this train…if the client tries to take it too far off the tracks with massive changes to your proposal, you have to stick to your guns. This is what separates good sales people from amazing sales people – allow input but don’t give up your idea or control of the process just because the client has questions. You must believe in your proposal for your client to believe in it. If you waffle, he becomes uncertain and that could derail your entire presentation.
Bottom line, you can’t use a “dimmer switch” on your ideas. Don’t slide between high intensity and low level light with every response from your client. Flip the switch to ON and leave it there – believe in your information, believe in your ability to craft a great solution, deliver your idea with energy, and be passionate about forming a long term relationship with your client based on your expertise and their willingness to listen.
If I can help you flip the switch in your sales process, let’s talk soon!