This month’s article is about gaining agreement on what the next steps would be after a 45-60 minute meeting has occurred between you and a buyer. Remember, in all of these steps we’ll be discussing, use the concepts of ‘quid pro quo’ and ABC (Always be closing – for the next step!).
A reminder to the readers! This is a buy/sell cycle which is considered a complex sale. That means that more than one buyer will be involved in making a decision to buy from your company. The strategy and tactics we are pursuing in these articles is HOW to successfully work with a company that will ask multiple key buyers to be involved in making a buying decision. Our negotiating strategies and tactics are designed to include ALL relevant buyers in the buying process.
During this 45 minute to 1 hour your objective ‘should be’ to discuss this person’s needs, why those needs may not be met and discuss potential capabilities that your products and services may provide. During this type of meeting we highly recommend using STORIES to illustrate how you have helped buyers get results and how products and services were used. If you want examples of websites which effectively demonstrate how to address needs, issues keeping companies from achieving those needs and HOW products and services address them, or want to discuss HOW these conversations can be constructed send us an email.
At the end of this conversation you are now moving from step 2 in figure 1 below to step 3 in negotiating with this potential prospect (See Figure 1). The strategy and tactic(s) at this step 3, are to conclude with the buyer that he/she believes there is good reason to continue discussing the needs they and their company have with the idea that your company may be able to help.
It is important that you have a roadmap in your mind about what the next steps should be as you move from the beginning of a buy/sell cycle towards a successful conclusion to the buy/sell cycle. Our recommendation for a next step after a more detailed discussion (45 minutes to 1 hour) is to gain agreement that this buyer has a “VISION” of a solution and wants to continue to evaluate your company and that you want to document this conversation in a letter and suggest some next steps (We’ll discuss what those next steps should be in the next article on negotiating).
If you have gotten to the point with this buyer that they have a vision of what their business needs are, what prevents them from achieving or overachieving those needs and HOW you can help them, this person will usually have a number of questions for you. It’s important that you be prepared to deal with these questions in a positive manner and use Quid Pro Quo/Negotiation as a tactic.
Remember, you have only been involved with this buyer for an hour or so, and it may not have been in person. This buyer is still deciding if they can trust you and are willing to move to a meaningful next step. Buyers are also used to buying in a certain manner from ‘typical, schlepping sales people’. You aren’t one of those, so you should be prepared to respond to their typical questions. Examples of the questions that may arise as this buyer arrives at a VISION of how they can change their business/department and how you can/should respond are:
How much will this cost? – “I’m sorry to say, but, it is premature for me to provide pricing. There is more information needed to ensure that the scope/breadth of your needs can be met. I’d like to write a summary of our discussions and suggest some next steps that can help you and I arrive at the cost of these types of capabilities. Is that fair/ok?”
If the buyer insists on getting pricing (2 or 3 times) then we recommend that you provide a range of low to high estimated costs while stressing that these are just that…..ranges.
Prove to me I can get the potential capabilities that we have been discussing – “OK! Let me think about the best manner in which to prove that you can get these capabilities. I would like to document our conversation to ensure that I correctly understand your needs and the challenges that you face. When we discuss that letter and agree it is an accurate reflection of this meeting I’ll also suggest some next steps including suggested proof as you have asked. Is that fair?”
Can I get a proposal from you on this? – “I’d like you to know that at this point, I’m not sure what to propose to you. What I recommend is that I document our discussion today, and in that letter suggest some next steps that you and I can/may take together. Once you receive this letter I recommend that we discuss its accuracy and the next steps that I will recommend. At the end of that meeting we can discuss when or if a proposal is in order or if there are additional items that will need to be discussed prior to that? Is that fair?”
What happens next? – “I would like to write a letter/email to you summarizing our meeting today. The purpose of the letter is to ensure that I correctly understand your needs and the business situation you are facing. In that letter I will discuss some next steps. Is that fair? When are you available to discuss the letter and any next steps?”
The subject for next month is successfully negotiating gaining access to other key buyers that would logically be involved in making a company buying decision about your products and services.
Give us call if you want to discuss this article or negotiating. There is no obligation to you other than being willing to spend a few minutes of your time. Our commitment to you is to provide a consultative point of view.