Previously I wrote about buying decisions and what’s going on in the client’s mind. Visionary thoughts – about results and value – create desire. Practical thoughts – about change, and the hassle and risks that brings – produce fear.
This all happens inside the client’s mind, not out in the open. So, often the first time you know there’s a problem is when the buying decision that seemed imminent goes on hold.
Here are five things you can do to prevent that happening and move the sale forward.
- Speak openly about the risk of failure. Too often this gets ignored in the race to close business. That’s a big mistake because failure is always a possibility. Ask the client how they think this project might fail. Find out about past failures with similar projects. Talk through what they presuppose could happen.
- Discuss the project’s impact on other stakeholders. You normally ask who other stakeholders are, don’t you? Just take that conversation deeper. Find out more about the politics between your client and the other stakeholders. What does this project mean to your client in terms of control, power, and reputation? How much will they be stepping on other’s shoes and battling for resources?
- Challenge the client on their busy agenda. It’s easy to get excited about project possibilities. But exciting possibilities often become harsh reality when it comes down to allocation of busy resources. Make sure the project is a priority and find out how the client is going to fit it into their agenda.
- Empathise. Recognise the thoughts and feelings the client has. Get them to slow down, step back and take stock. Make sure you agree how you’ll address the four fears that stop the client from buying.
- Finally, take the time to help the client think through their plan/ strategy/ criteria for buying. Don’t assume clients have this already because in my experience they seldom do.
Client self-talk can easily cause buying inertia and derail consultancy project decisions. Done well these five things will transform the clients thinking and your relationship with them. You’ll no longer be the consultant who’s pushing them for a decision. You’ll be the buying facilitator, making life easier for them.
The bottom line
Get real: Thoughts and emotions are there, even when you can’t see them.
Get prepared: Let go of the role of the ‘sales person’ pitching and persuading clients to buy.
Get savvy: You’ll close more business when you act like a facilitator and guide the decision making process.
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