Get a Commitment

The Schedule the Next Event or Permission Play is the final play of each routine in the Griffin Hill Sales Process. The importance of this highly effective play was highlighted for me while reading a recent blog written by Sam Manfer. In his post, Manfer points out that more than 75% of sales calls end without the sales person asking for a commitment.

One of the main purposes of the Schedule the Next Event or Permission Play is to set the expectation of moving toward the close. Each time we use the Schedule the Next Event Play with our prospects it adds momentum for doing business. It’s important to know that asking for a commitment is not necessarily the same as asking for the close, which Manfer points out in his blog.

“Now commitment doesn’t mean only asking for the order. It is much broader than that. Commitment can be for the next meeting, the prospects support, and/or getting back to you within a certain time, etc. Commitment is the essence of moving the sale forward. Conversely, refusal to give commitment is the biggest signal that the sale is in distress. Yet, asking for commitment is a rarity.”

This is a brilliant statement from Mr. Manfer. It is so critical in the sales process to keep momentum in your favor. Asking for a commitment for a future meeting sets the expectation of moving toward the close. It adds momentum for doing business together. Because our sales process is the most psychologically efficient way to achieve agreement, each step is logical; it simply makes sense to the prospect and to you that you should take that next step together. Moving from one step in the sales process to the next builds an increasing expectation of closing a deal.

Don’t forget that when we talk about scheduling the next event, it’s not enough to say “I’ll get back to you next week.” There are three crucial elements that must be clear and agreed upon: time, location, and agenda. When, where, and why. If all these are not agreed to, it is not a scheduled next event.

Keeping momentum in our favor also makes it easier to advance the sales process. Each time you schedule the next event or get permission to go to the next stage of the sales process you advance toward the goal of getting a close, and you maintain control of the selling situation. By having momentum in your favor and being in control of the situation, when it is in fact time to ask for the close it becomes a smooth and easy process. Because you have asked for commitments after each sales call, when is time for the close your suspect is ready and should feel comfortable making that decision.

The Qualification Process

We have all worked with an unqualified suspect. Because we believe these prospects could be ideal customers, we ignore all the warning signs and continue to advance the sales process in the hope of getting a close. When the time comes to ask for the close, we hear things like, “we don’t have the budget for this right now,” or “I need to talk with my manager about this,” or even “this would be the perfect solution in 6 months.”

These could very well be valid concerns from your prospect. But there is a way to catch these objections early in the sales process to avoid slowing down momentum as you ask for the close. In a recent blog, Robert Seviourtalked about how to fix this problem.

“The antidote is to ‘Qualify’ the prospect. What that means is finding out at an early stage whether the person you are talking to has what it takes to become a fully-paid up customer. What we need to know is, does he or she have the authority to make a purchasing decision without consulting others; have they got the money and what is the strength of interest.”

This is a very insightful comment from Mr. Seviour. Not only does he tell us when it is important to qualify in the sales process, but what the qualifying factors should be. A good sales person must learn how to qualify and what to qualify for at different stages of the process. When a sales person learns how to qualify they can rely on the sales process and let the system guide them through qualification.

The first step of Griffin Hill’s Integrity Sales System, the Case Open routine, creates interest. In order for a buyer to be qualified to move forward to the Needs Audit, they must be interested in your product. Executing your Case Open Routine is a way you can create interest. If the suspect is not interested after hearing a strong Case Open Routine, all the tools of persuasion& are probably pointless. In that case, it is best to walk away happily rather than waste valuable time trying to persuade a buyer who has no interest.

When your Case Open does create interest there is a built-in play that will help test the level of interest. The Schedule the Next Event Play seeks a commitment from the suspect that signals that there is enough interest to take the sales process to the next step. If the buyer is interested, the suspect meets this qualification criterion and is allowed to advance in the sales process.

The qualification process does not end there. During the next stage of the sales process, the Needs Audit Routine, we ask questions that are used to help qualify for need, want, ability to pay, and decision making. If our prospects qualify in those 4 areas, we can again use the Schedule the Next Event Play and take the sales process to the next step.

If the buyer is not qualified, don’t be afraid to walk away. You’re better off finding qualified prospects than dragging unqualified prospects through a process they can’t complete. By following the playset, the system will take care of qualification. Figuring out early in the sales process that the prospect is not qualified will allow you to move on and focus your efforts on finding those buyers who are.

Focus on the Benefits

Take a minute and write the top five to ten benefits of your product or service. This should not be difficult; simply list the five to ten things you most frequently tell suspects about what you have to offer.

Now go back and look at your list. Do your “benefits” describe the qualities of your product or service? If so, you’ve got a problem–along with 99% of all professional sales people.  I am not talking about 99% of all sales people; I am talking about 99% of lifetime professionals. Getting to the benefits is much more challenging than you may have considered, but getting the benefits will make you a sales genius!

The importance of this principle was reinforced for me while reading a recent blog written by Donal Daly.

“Customers care about a product’s benefits – not its features. You should too. It’s not that the technology, or innovation, that’s at the core of your product isn’t important; it’s just that, unless it delivers value to a customer, it doesn’t matter. It’s not that your lower price isn’t advantageous; it’s just that, until you create value in the mind of the buyer, the buyer isn’t interested and any price is too high. That’s the power of a well-crafted value proposition. It expresses your unique value, and gets the customer interested – it’s your promise to deliver.”

 

This is a brilliant statement by Mr. Daly. Being Benefit centric will help prospects see the value in your product or service. We all know that Buyers Buy Benefits. The reason is that Benefits focus on the prospect. It gives them a clear picture of how your product or service will make their life better.

This is why it is so critical when you are giving a Solution Presentation to your prospects to show them how they get the Benefit. You do this through Features, Advantages, Benefits, and Proofs.  This progression from Feature to Advantage to Benefits is not an uncommon discussion in the world of sales.  It might be helpful for you to think of Features as describing what the product or service is – the tangible elements and the capabilities. Advantages describe what the feature does, and shows why the functionality is better than status quo or better than the functionality offered by your competitors. Benefits explain why the customers and suspects care.

For example, if I were to say my product is the fastest on the market, I’m descriving a feature. If I explain that the speed of my product helps my customers complete more work in the same amount of time, that is an advantageto my customer and it suggests there is an advantage available to my prospect.  You can take this a further step by specifying  the real value of completing more work in the same amount of time, things like increased profits, prestige, preservation, etc. Now you’re describing the benefit. By taking the advantage that next step, you are able to get to the real benefits desired by your prospect.