Giving a winning sales presentation doesn’t guarantee that you’ll close the deal. Asking your prospect to engage in the process does.
Consider this sales scenario: You conduct a great meeting with a business prospect, engage in smart conversation, and exchange ideas. The sales prospect:
- Thanks you for the insights you provided
- Agrees that your solution meets their needs
- Engages in a preliminary discussion and understanding about pricing
- Asks you to prepare a proposal
- Goes so far as to discuss start dates for the project
You leave the sales meeting excited and confident that you have the deal. The customer gave you every buying signal you ever learned.
Sales Success Starts Before the Follow-Up
You write the proposal, review with your team, include detailed pricing and timelines, and send the proposal to the client with a well-crafted email.
You call, you email. Silence.
You’re dumbfounded. What went wrong? What happened to the great relationship you thought you had? Why won’t your sales prospect return your messages? I certainly don’t know, but you need to.
Maybe they got busy, went on vacation, changed roles within the company, or ran into barriers for approval and feel too embarrassed to talk to you. Maybe it’s none of these.
Assume Nothing, Predict Everything
If we assume that you uncovered all of the prospect’s needs, and we also assume:
- The prospect has complete knowledge of the impact of your solution on his business
- The prospect has decision authority
- You know and understand the approval process
- The prospect understands your pricing…
What could you have done differently? Could you have prevented this crushing sales scenario? Yes, here’s how:
- Prepare a Discussion Document, which summarizes the business issues, the ROI of your solution, and a pricing range
- Schedule a time to review this document before you leave the meeting
You put a lot of thought and work into a Discussion Document or Proposal. Don’t ever agree to write one unless you have a follow-up meeting on the calendar.
Everyone Has a Job (the Prospect, Too)
Never leave a meeting with a list of things for you to do and nothing for your prospective new client to do. Everyone needs an assignment. Without one, your client isn’t invested in the solution. Engage him in his success: You may ask him to provide you with materials to review, to conduct research, or survey his internal team. Whatever you decide is appropriate: Make sure your sales prospect has a task.
And, always, always, leave your meeting with another meeting scheduled. If your prospect is noncommittal, that should be a huge red flag that you have been too quick to jump to a proposed solution.