Successful sales conversations pivot on 2 things –
1. Where your client is
2. Their trust in your ability to help them
In this post I’d like to look the first of these, as I’ve witnessed many lost sales because the client is not in the the right place to make a commitment or decision.
Discerning when to engage in a sales conversation is as important as knowing how.
If you attempt a conversation with a client at the wrong time in their buying process, they may politely accept but are not fully engaged and get spooked!
This often shows up as objections like “I need to think about it”, “I can’t afford it” or “I need to speak to my partner” etc.
(I’ll cover dealing with those type of objections in a separate post, as these should be handled and framed at the beginning of a conversation, not at the end.)
So timing is a key part of making sales easier and why focusing on the ‘goldilocks zone’ of readiness, is the easiest, least stressful place to engage clients.
In my experience, there are 6 levels that people progress through when it comes to fixing problems –
1. Ignore it
This is where it’s shrugged off, often with language like “no biggie” or “it’s just one of those things”. This can continue for months or years.
Next is a low level recognition there’s a problem, but doesn’t want to take responsibility for it, so blames external influences. Phrases like “It’s the economy”, “I just can’t find the time/right type of clients” or ” If only I had more of ‘X’ it’d be fine”.
At level 3, real acceptance surfaces there’s a problem and something needs to be done about it. However, this level can be held on to for months or years – don’t be fooled by perceiving it as the next level! Typical phrases are “I must get round to it” and “I know, it’s a problem but…”
*This is where we strategically hang out to be able to help at level 4
4. Motivated (Goldilocks Zone)
Hands up time. The hit of not doing something about the problem is clear and present. Your client is actively looking for your solution, and you can recognise it’s the right time to engage them in a sales conversation.
5. Imperative (Goldilocks zone)
The stuff has hit the fan. Something has to be done NOW. This is the fastest sales conversation you’re ever likely to have
There needs caution here, though. you still need to ensure it’s a good match and you’re not getting pulled unknowingly into level 6
From a financial perspective, this level offers very high return.
However, the impact of the problem has gone way past the point of of being fixed ‘cleanly’ (pre-emptively), and often the client doesn’t want to deal with the fallout themselves, they want someone else to do it for them.
So, from a strategic approach, we want to focus our efforts on the people at levels 3,4 and 5 for both the fastest results, and the highest impact.
In the next post, I’ll look at the second element, trust.
This is based on my experience and understanding of selling professional services, coaching and consulting over 20 years. I hope it gives you food for thought, and I encourage you to take what makes sense and validate it for yourself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.
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