Do you know the two most important things to know to win more business?
One of my private coaching clients thinks that I am the best salesperson in the word! Why? Well, I don’t really know, but I suspect it’s because he’s been a client for many years; he’s paid me a lot of money for the privilege but perhaps, more importantly, he has quadrupled his sales and business results.
But if he’s good at winning work, why does he need to chat through his sales pipeline challenges with me?
Well, in the early days of our relationship he was sick and tired of losing out to his closest competitors; now it’s all about how he can help his clients to improve their results and those of their clients. He is ultra-conscious that if his services and products help his clients to be successful, he will be successful as a result.
Over the years he’s tried to shape and hone his abilities in many ways. His latest challenge is how does he improve his sales effectiveness still further?
After discussing many options, which we thought would either lead him on the wrong path or to a dead end, we jointly concluded that he had to concentrate more on two key areas:
- How to get his prospects to give him more relevant information so he could help them more; and
- How to help his client (the person in the client body) to ensure that he produced a truly effective and compelling ‘Business Case’ for the approval of his MD or procurement team.
With the former challenge we spent a lot of time coming up with questions that got his prospects to open up and tell him what was really going on; what was important; and how best to propose a solution.
We came up with several really searching questions that would provide a greater insight into what prospects were thinking but not saying, for example:
- I’m curious, what else are you thinking about in relation to this project?
- Well, that’s interesting, can you be more specific?
- Really,and what else?
- What would happen if you didn’t get those results?
- What have you tried to date to help solve this problem?
- How else do you think you might solve it?
- What are some of the things that might get in the way of this ‘Business Case’ being approved?
- What is the process that your Chief Executive goes through when approving a ‘Business Case’?
In relation to the latter challenge, we realised that effective salespeople are good at helping their clients to communicate the relevance, importance and all the benefits associated with their particular ‘Business Case’ to their boss, the MD or the firm’s procurement committee. So, we produced a template that would help individual executives or managers to present their ‘Business Case’ in the best possible light.
Both these initiatives have proven to be very effective and has helped my client significantly to boost orders.
So, what’s the moral or learning here?
Well, for people who wish to help their prospects to solve complex problems, they need to find out what their prospects are not saying just much as, if not more than, what they are saying. This can only be done by asking great questions that elicit what prospects know but aren’t revealing. Also, they need to help their prospects to produce a compelling argument as to why your project should be supported in preference to all others.