Defusing A Difficult Sales Opportunity - Part 2

By Guest Blogger Michael Harrison

In the last article we looked at some of the ways to diffuse a difficult sales. We follow with some more ways you can work to improve your position.

3. Have a client copy of the proposal.

Now, I never want to take up more time than needed to deliver my proposal, so I said, “Let me give you a quick rundown of my recommendations, and I’ll leave my proposal for you to read at a more convenient time.”

I had my copy, he had his. I quickly reviewed the key points from a bullet list within the proposal and gave a one-line summary of each benefit. The prospect, by this time, had turned his attention to the proposal and was reading along with me.

4. Be prepared to deflect objections.

“I don’t know, Michael, this seems like an awful lot of money, especially in this economy. I mean, times are tough.” I hear this almost daily.

And my answer is always the same: “Cutting the marketing budget is easy in a contracting economy, but it’s the exact wrong thing to do. In lean times, boost your marketing. Marketing makes you money and delivers a very nice ROI when properly implemented.”

5. Know your stuff.

“Do you have the rate card?” The information on advertising costs – number of insertions, ad size, special placement, etc.

I knew that this accountancy would want to do a cost analysis so it was simple enough to collect the rate cards for the different publications the firm was considering. This shows you’ve done your homework and understand the needs of the prospect.

You also take the stress off the now-relaxed prospect who asks if I’d love a cup of de-caf while he looks over the rate cards. I’m going to be there for a while.

6. Forget the closing.

You might be tempted to pull out all of those glossy marketing collaterals you carry around in your brief case to “close” the deal, but a distracted, over-worked decision maker – at least a good one – isn’t going to make a decision under duress from other job duties.

So loading down this over-loaded, over-worked exec with a pile of brochures and sell sheets just adds more information through which to plough. Instead, simply leave your well-written proposal. Simple, easy, lean, mean and quantifiable.

That’s all this poor guy needs.

7. Know when to exit the building.

“Well, it’s been a pleasure meeting you Michael” is my exit cue. Of course, some busy executives don’t give cues that are quite so obvious.

Notice body language. If the prospects stands up from his desk, that’s a good cue. If he starts taking calls, a very good cue. Look at the prospects face. He may be hearing you, but is he listening?

Time to stop selling.

8. Never leave without setting up future contact information.

“ Well, Beth, I’ll call early next week to give you time to review our proposal.”

Indeed, you’ve stop selling your services for the moment because the moment isn’t right. And by providing Beth a few days to carefully review your letter-perfect proposal, you know it’ll get the attention it deserves, even if you’re not sitting across the desk from the prospect.

A well-written proposal answers all of the prospect’s questions.

Also, leave a business card and a parting offer of help. “If you have any questions about the proposal, even over the weekend, please call me to discuss.”

That’s client-centred marketing at its purest.

When you sit down for a proposal review, you never know what to expect. A long table of nameless faces, a conference call with a disembodied voice in some unknown place, or maybe just a stressed-out-bad-hair-day-over-worked-under-paid decision maker.

By taking control of a difficult sales situation, by keeping it brief and on point, by recognizing the needs of the prospect at the moment of sale and in the longer term, you can close more sales with less selling.

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