Crystal balls. Don’t you wish you had one when you were preparing for a big sales call? Even more when you were in a big sales presentation?
Great news: A sales crystal ball is nothing more than taking a look at information derived from reading existing stuff and then asking powerful questions about it.
There are two places to find crystal ball information. The past and the present. Just look at how the past and present affected the prospect and his use of your product and/or service and presto, you create your own ability to predict the future.
Here is the information you need in order to become a successful predictor of the future:
Study the past. Success and failure have their roots in what has already transpired. Your job is to gather the historical information so you can understand the best way to communicate your ability to help in the future. Knowing the past is an easy way to gain an insight to the present. Study the customer’s original needs, how they and why they bought before, all the players and their emotional ebbs, how the decision was made, and the problems that surfaced and how they were resolved.
Be present in the present. Stephen Covey differentiates between urgent and important in his Habit #3: Put first things first. And that’s the real path to success. If you are able to get your prospect to see you as important, you can get him away from what he perceives as urgent (but really isn’t). Urgent is his situation; important is your ability to communicate help. (Note: Help first, get the order second.)
Collect information about what’s working and not working from the customer’s point of view. Share your company’s perception of these issues. Collect information about the changes that have taken place in the customer’s company, how they have impacted the decision-makers your company has worked with in the past, and how that relates to their present situation. Study their Web site; read all company literature, newsletters, annual reports, and their industry trade magazines; and become fluent in the prospect’s company and industry. Determine what past problems still exist and may be preventing present success. Share your big picture in a way that creates a leadership image.
Talk about and ask about the future. People love to talk about their plans and dreams. If you can get them going, they may see (and verbalize) how you fit in. You need to know the path your prospect wants to take so you can get on that path and become part of that vision. Ask about the company’s specific future plans and needs. Find out specific plans for achievement. See if you are in any way able to help them achieve it, even if it’s not directly dealing with your product or service. When appropriate, share your industry trends that will affect how your company will do business in the future, and how those trends will impact your business. Share some of your company’s future plans. Show how that will establish (or maintain) a leadership position.
Nothing complicated presented here. On the surface it appears to be just basic fundamental blocking and tackling. Almost. It’s executing the fundamentals from the customer’s perspective. It’s information that impacts the prospect’s point of view – you know, the only one that matters.
I’m looking into my crystal ball, and I see big sales in your future. Do you?