Scenario: You’ve worked very hard to sell your product or service to the initial contact or representative of the prospective company, but unfortunately you don’t have direct access to the final decision maker (or board).
00. In this exercise, work with a partner. This could be a fellow sales team member or sales manager or anyone who is in sales and can be an effective coach for you.
0. Set up the scenario by making you or your partner the salesperson, with the other person acting as the prospect/initial contact or company representative. (Note: Rather than making up a scenario, you could also use a current proposal that is in process and that fits this situation). If you sell over the phone, pretend you are on the phone, if you sell in person then pretend you are at an appointment.
NOTE: Once you do the exercise as the sales person, then switch roles so that you may experience how it feels to be the prospect.
1. EXERCISE PART 1: The first step is to ensure that we have the Initial Contact/Company Representative 100% closed. This gives the foundation to be able to handle any questions from the board or final decision maker.
a. You should simply ask the contact a question such as: “If the decision was completely up to you, would you sign the contract?” You are of course looking for a solid “yes” answer.
b. However just asking the above question and getting a yes answer to it can be a trap, and while it is good the professional knows it is not enough. The follow up question is key: “What are the reasons why you would sign the contract?”
c. You must verify that the contact/representative is truly closed by getting from them the reasons why they feel strongly about this proposal. This is going to tell you a lot of information and verify how well the prospect really understands your product or service and the overall proposal. The key here is to ask questions and get the initial contact or representative to give you their viewpoint without you interrupting or coaching them. You must determine their level of understanding and how strongly they will represent the deal to the board or final decision maker.
d. If the initial contact or representative is not fully closed or has considerations, this will come up in the above process. You must then fully handle this so they are truly closed. Then re-verify using the same or similar questions above.
Note: For the Exercise, do an example of each. One for the contact that is fully closed and one for the contact that is not fully closed.
e. Once you verify the contact is fully closed, validate and strengthen this by providing them with supporting and/or additional information. They will appreciate the support. The ideal result here is that you now have a fully closed, initial contact that strongly knows the value of your product or service for their company and can clearly represent this value to their board or final decision maker.
2. EXERCISE PART 2: Formulate your plan to close the board or final decision maker:
a. Now that the initial prospect is verified as fully closed, you can proceed to create the best plan to close the board or final decision maker. You must do your homework/research before you plan.
b. First research past projects that were approved or disapproved: The first question for the initial contact or company representative is: “Have you had a similar situation in the past where you really wanted to move forward with a deal like this?”
If the answer is yes, now find out if there were times that they did get approval as well as times they did not. Note these down. Find out about the times that were successful by asking a question such as: “What were the key reasons those projects were approved?”
It’s possible the contact has not thought about this. The purpose of this is to get them to think about the reasons why they got approval in the past and naturally they will start to compare those points with the current proposal.
Next you must find out about those times that were unsuccessful by asking a question such as: “What were the key reasons those projects were not approved?” It’s likely that the contact has not thought about this either. The purpose of this is to get them to think about the reasons for the past disapprovals and naturally they will start to compare those points with this proposal.
c. Now that the information about past successes and failures is fresh for you and the contact you can plan out how to close the board or final decision maker. The obvious workout here is to come up with a strong presentation that shows all of the reasons why an approval is vital to the success of the company and aligns with past successful approvals. The presentation must really create the desired want with the decision makers. It should show them how moving forward was the correct decision and will contribute to the future expansion of the company.
d. After the plan is done, you must do a test based on the experience that the contact has had with the decision makers. First get from the contact how they are going to present the plan. Ensure they can and will strongly present the case to go with this proposal, just as you would. A part of this step is to coach them on any points missed that would support their presentation. Coach them to present the product or service as certainly and as strongly as you would.
e. Now it’s time for the test. Ask the contact what they feel the board or final decision maker will say about the presentation based on their past experience with similar proposals. The point here is that you’re trying to get your contact to envision the result.
If they bring up concerns about what the board or final decision maker will say or how they will react, work out how the presentation can be changed or improved to rectify this.
You also may coach the contact through the handling of objections and/or reactions the board or final decision may present. You have two possible results from this process. Either your contact will decide that it’s better for you to do the presentation, or they will be confident and certain enough to take care of it on their own.
As a final point, ensure they know that you are available by phone in case they need any help before, during or after their presentation.
Exercise Note 1: You may also use this process to handle a situation where the business partner or spouse needs to be involved in the decision making process.
Exercise Note 2: If you are the sales manager or business owner coaching your salesperson, use this same process to prepare them for any sales presentation.
I hope now you have a good idea of how to handle the situation where you can’t get direct access to the final decision maker.
Remember; use this exercise in your Core Ability Sales Training continuing education program. It’s extremely effective in closing many more sales!
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