4 Essential Commitments to Move Your Sale Forward
It happens to us all...an important client meeting with "less than desired" results.
With a little planning and a partnering process for the conversation you'll have with your prospect or client, you can replace that sinking feeling with the knowledge that you've advanced the deal in the sales cycle, or discovered where more work is needed to get past an obstacle.
Arlene Johnson, Miller Heiman sales consultant, shares her experience and offers her advice on how you can, with each conversation, reduce your sales cycles and grow your relationships by getting "buyer buy-in".
Are you prepared for the call?
Suppose you are getting ready for an important client conversation. With less than complete client knowledge, if not "target on", your discussion could produce a meeting outcome where buyer delay results in stalled sales cycles.
On the other hand, planning and using the Four Client Agreements defined below will help you gain the critical information needed to build customer-focused recommendations, move the sales cycle forward and distinguish you as a valuable solutions provider! Treat these agreements as gateways to the next step. If you don't get agreement at any point, you'll need to go back to the previous step.
Try asking for these Four Client Agreements on your next call.
- The Client Agrees to discuss a Valid Business Reason (VBR)
Used at the beginning of each client phone call, meeting, or presentation. The VBR is a statement to discuss what might be important to the client's business situation. You've done your homework. You understand your client's business and business concerns. When the client agrees that you understand his issues, it promotes interest for an in-depth business discussion and reduces resistance to your well-planned questions!
Tip: The VBR is a value statement from their point of view. It's not about us, so you're not presenting your call objective or solution statement at this point in your conversation.
- The Client agrees to your understanding of their needs and buying concepts.
Used to summarize and gain agreement on the client's key concepts (what they wish to fix, accomplish or avoid) and their solution image (what they think will address their issues) prior to making any recommendation. The more you understand about the client, the better you will be able to leverage your strengths, minimize your "red flags" where you need additional information or strategy. You are then positioned to overcome price or other obstacles thrown at you by others influencing the buying decision.
Tip: Planning good questions to gain critical information or verify assumptions is well worth the pre-call planning time...especially when on a joint call with a team member!
- The Client Agrees to your recommendation or solution.
Used to gain agreement from the client that your unique strengths and recommendation fits hand in glove with the client's issues (which you have verified) and their image of the best solution. Gain this agreement prior to discussing which next step in the sales cycle would be cost appropriate.
Tip: If there is not enough client information to make the recommendation statement truly customer-focused versus product focused, evidenced by quantifiable client benefit statements...stop, go back and ask more in-depth questions prior to asking for Minimum or Best Action Commitments.
- The Client Agrees To Next Actions.
Used to gain agreement on the best or minimum action to be taken by you and the client as a result of the conversation. (For example: the client schedules with you the next meeting with additional buying influences; or the client agrees to participate in a demo.) These actions need to be appropriate to where you are in the sales cycle and to the business relationship. This ensures a partnering relationship and moves the sales cycle forward.
Tip: Appropriate Minimum Actions which you have requested, but the client has not agreed to could be a "red flag" for this key decision maker and this opportunity! You may have missing information or need to include strategy for another buying influence. To clear your "red flags", you will need to verify or add information or adjust your strategy.
Planning and conducting calls with the Four Client Agreements as your focus demonstrates to your clients that you understand and provide high value solutions that resolve their issues better than any competitive option. These agreements promote conversations with key buying influences that help mitigate issues and leverage the strengths of your solutions.
Arlene Johnson is the founder of Sinequanon Group, Inc. (SGI). She has over 25 years of experience in sales and executive sales management. Her result-oriented leadership, teaching and coaching style in sales systems and change management help her clients quickly create a competitive differentiation in a demanding and radically changing business environment. As an independent sales consultant of Miller Heiman, she provides "best in class" sales performance solutions specific to the clients' business and selling environment.