In last week’s article, So You Got the Meeting. Now What?, I outlined the first three steps for conducting a successful sales meeting. To recap:
Preparation is everything to you do to prepare for the meeting beforehand, including having a pricing strategy in place, and researching the company’s products and services.
Introduction is the warm-up phase where you lay the foundation for building trust and rapport.
Fact-Finding is the diagnosis stage, where you find out everything you need to know in order to recommend a solution.
Without further ado, here are Steps Four through Seven.
4. Value Presentation
Simply put, value is anything someone is willing to pay to have increased or decreased. But you’ll never know what that “anything” is unless you ask the right questions.
Once you’ve established your prospect’s definition of value, it’s time to demonstrate how you can provide it. To do so, you must position your services as the means to making your prospect’s business dreams come true.
Tangible value—measured in terms of financial numbers, percentages, dollars, or time—means increasing revenue, reducing expenses, or saving time. But subjective or intangible value is something you can’t put a number on to give it meaning or value. It’s the status of being successful business owner, the luxury of retiring early, the security of having a nest egg for the future, or the pride of being able to pay for a child’s Ivy League education.
Value isn’t always about money. The more you can get your prospect focused on the emotional and intangible benefits money can bring, the better your chances of becoming the vendor of choice.
Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, it’s time to prescribe a treatment plan. I learned the hard way that offering a single solution means walking away or lowering your price if the prospect balks. As part of your pricing strategy, you need to bring more than one option to the table.
Start by presenting the higher-priced program as the best solution. But have at least one less expensive option should that be more than your prospect is prepared to pay. (And it doesn’t hurt if your high-priced option is intentionally so. It makes your second option seem less expensive than if you’d offered it first.)
Remember, you want to position your recommendation as your prospect’s means of obtaining whatever he’s identified as his key value indicators in the previous step.
Many sales gurus will tell you that now is the time to handle and overcome your prospect’s objections. But if you asked the right questions in the fact-finding stage, you were able to discover any potential objections and address them during the value presentation—without appearing to have done so.
The close is actually where you get your prospect’s “yes” or “no” answer. Closing requires that you push the “maybe’s” off the fence. Those new to sales are often reluctant to do so, because the prospect may land on the “no” side, and “maybe” feels like the door’s still open.
But “maybe” is actually the worst answer. But that’s only true when you’ve been busy prospecting and have other potential clients in your pipeline. If not, “no” is devastating. With other prospects in your pipeline, “no” means you’re free to pursue these other opportunities. “Maybe” means three weeks of follow-up phone calls or emails—something for which you have no time if you have other opportunities to purse. So keep your pipeline full and push for the close.
That’s not to say that you must push back on the spot, during the first meeting. Clients often want time to consider your offer. But you can and should get a commitment as to when that decision will be made and how he’ll inform you of it.
Even when the close results in “yes,” keep in mind that nothing’s truly final until you have a check and signed contract in hand. So now’s not the time to post a desperate “Help! Does anyone have a contract I can use?” on SitePoint’s business forum.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.