Do You Know What To Do?

In my private client consulting I urge clients to gain commitments and get prospects to pay a minimal amount for proposals that involve significant staff time to prepare. This does two things: first it determines client commitment by closing a mini sale upfront and, second it employs the principal of consistency and commitment for prospects to follow through when the final proposal is submitted. I realize that many of you will dismiss this strategy outright not because it doesn’t work but because it is too far out of your comfort zone.

Below is a scenario and sales script that I developed for a private client who is in the sign industry. Typically this client is presenting proposals that range from $5,000 – $20,000 and the preparation of the proposal includes several hours of graphics work and estimating time. Each of these proposals cost the company several hundred dollars to produce and we are using this concept to minimize giving proposals that don’t close.

As you would imagine, many prospects are reluctant to pay for proposals – especially in competitive situations. Below is a real case scenario and the sales script for handling just such an objection. The astute among you will read this and give considerable thought to how you can apply this to your business.

The Challenge

Do you know what to do/say when the prospect wants you to give a proposal but doesn’t want to commit to paying you for the design, artwork and all of the time you put in to the project?

First of all, realize when you get that response you somehow failed to differentiate yourself and the prospect sees you as a salesperson and has not bought into you as a trusted advisor. When this happens accept full responsibility for letting them put you in the box labeled salesperson. It is much easier to stay out of that box than it is to extricate yourself once you are in it. But if, no, when you find yourself in that box here is how to handle it.

To effectively get out of this pickle, you must shock the prospect and gain their full attention by displaying totally unpredictable behavior. That means doing exactly the opposite of what they expect.

The Response

(Review their pain) Mr. Prospect, you have just spent the better part of the hour telling me why you need signage, how important it is to you to have signage and you admitted that if you don’t have proper signage the negative impact to you is …………………………………. Is that correct? (Wait for answer. If you heard wrong go back to the pain step and start all over)

OK, I didn’t think I was hearing things. Mr. Prospect, may I ask you a question? (Wait for agreement) Have you ever gone thru a process where you obtained several bids and proposals from companies and then made a decision to move forward by accepting one of these proposals? (Wait for agreement) Have you ever done that and then been disappointed with the finished project because it wasn’t exactly what you wanted, or it didn’t produce the type of results you wanted it to? (Wait for agreement)Would it even be fair to say that was a mistake? (Wait for agreement and then look deeply into their eyes and slowly and clearly say) Do you want to do that again? (Wait for them to tell you they don’t want to do that again)

Mr. Prospect I understand. We are committed to helping you avoid making another costly and perhaps embarrassing mistake but to do so we need your commitment to us so we can help you? Does that make sense? (Wait for agreement) The way we ensure that you are happy with the finished project and that it produces the results you want is for us to commit significant resources to the design of your project. In order for us to do that you need to tell me that you want us to become your partner in producing. The way you do that is by okaying the Professional Services Agreement which give us permission to begin the process. If you are unwilling to do that I cannot help you. Does that make sense? (When they agree give them the PSA and a pen, indicate where there are to sign and then shut up no matter how long they look at it)

The key to this whole approach is your expectation. If you are confident that this is the right thing to do, you will radiate confidence and they will mirror your confidence by following your instruction. If you have the slightest bit of doubt, fear, and anxiety or show any hesitation they will sense it and not move forward. Remember: They are buying YOU not a sign. Above all you must accept full responsibility for the outcome of the call and avoid the temptation of making excuses for your lack of results.