When you successfully market your firm, you're going to find yourself on the phone with more prospects, hoping to convert them into clients. Many people will suggest that you have a questionnaire for them to fill out so you can assess their needs.
I'm just going to be honest and say that I hate that idea!
You're about to build a relationship with a client. In fact, long before the sales call, you began to cultivate and nurture that relationship. Now that you're getting to the most intimate part, you're going to ask them to fill out a questionnaire?
My process has proven to be very effective. My closing rate is much higher than most, and here's why I believe that's true.
Moving past all of the usual stuff about having confidence and the other things you've read 1,000 times before everywhere else on the web, I want to describe how the actual conversation goes.
I don't have a questionnaire. I don't have a script. In fact, the first thing I do is take notes. I pull up a blank document on my computer and enlarge it so it's the only thing I can see. Evernote works great for this.
The reason these details are important is that if I can see other things on my screen, I can be distracted and miss what the prospect is telling me. I have to be 1,000% attentive to my clients' and prospects' needs, and so here goes your next tip.
Assume the sale is already made, and it already is.
Treat your prospect like they are already your client. This has a direct impact on your mindset and sales is ALL about psychology--mostly yours, not the prospect's.
If an existing client calls you for help, you're probably much more relaxed than you'd be with a prospect.
So how do you get into this mindset and treat the prospect like they are already a client? Stop worrying about getting the client and run the conversation like this:
"Hey [insert name here]. Tell me what's going on with you / your business, and how can I help?"
That's it! That's the whole sales pitch right there. The minute you ask that question, you take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth. Listen and take notes. Don't write every word. Summarize and listen for the things that indicate where the client needs help. And think of them as a client, not a prospect--again, mindset is everything.
Even if you think you've reached the point where you are sure you know exactly what your soon-to-be client needs, keep the cotton in your mouth. In most cases, you'll be right, but this covers you for the few cases in which additional information is revealed and leads you to believe that there is another more appropriate solution that you can offer them.
Waiting it out even when you already know the solution accomplishes a few really important things.
First and foremost, the prospect is left with the feeling like you listened, because you actually did. That right there is the #1 most effective tool in sales. The reason this is so important is because it indicates the real #1 most important component of any relationship: You actually care!
Listening, of course, also gives you the opportunity to learn much more about the prospect. Oftentimes I am able to offer more than I would have because I listened. I wind up making more money and making them happier. Everybody wins.
The last part has to be in place well before the sales call, and hopefully by now it is.
Now that you've heard the prospect's problems, it's time to offer them solutions. You have to have an arsenal of solutions ready. It's not a question of whether or not you're going to work with them. It's just a question of how.
When a prospect tells me, for example, that they can't afford one of my more premium plans, I have a "support plan" that offers a compromise. I won't do as much, but I can still offer my guidance and expertise on a more limited basis. This covers us for each of two cases:
- The prospect really can't afford you.
- They don't see the value yet.
If they really can't afford you yet, then this is a perfect compromise.
If the prospect doesn't see the value yet, then this is how you put your product in their hands and let them take it for a test drive. Once they see the value in what you can do for them firsthand, then there is no selling required. They will likely come to you for the upgrade and you can certainly suggest it. Or the now-client will ask you for something that opens the door for you to say, "This is exactly what my other plan is designed to offer."
Selling really isn't about selling. It's about listening with insane intensity, reading between the lines, and deeply understanding what the client needs. Then you offer solutions.