Giving And Asking

To move opportunities forward, consultants need to do both.

Yesterday I shared how looking at the buying process as a series of conversations and commitments makes everything easier for consultants.

Let’s illustrate that by looking at some common activities:

  • Consultation: It's a conversation where you will explore your prospect's goals and needs, identifying risks or opportunities. If that conversation goes well (and you do present a compelling case for change), you may ask whether the issue is a priority for them and if they're committed to tackling it;
  • Discovery: It's a series of conversations that happen after the prospect has committed to make a change in their business and collaborate with you to explore potential solutions. In it, you will not only explore their context but also ask your contact to bring other relevant people to the conversation (build consensus) and understand how much time, energy, and money they can commit to producing their desired result (invest). If  you skip those activities, you won't be able to come up with solutions that work for them.
  • Presentation: It's a conversation where you will present to your prospect different potential solutions to generate their desired result, which include everything you’ve learned from the previous conversations. If it goes well, you will ask the prospect to share their questions and concerns and give you an opportunity to address them;

Can you identify which commitments we need to have earned before having each one of these conversations? And what does the prospect need to commit to for us to move forward?

If we look at the sales process from this perspective, we don’t need complicated funnels or diagrams to understand how it works. It is a very natural sequence of interactions - as we move from one to the next, we build more and more trust and understanding about how you and the prospect can help each other.

One thing is worth highlighting though: To sell effectively, consultants need to learn how to do both well - having conversations and gaining commitments.

If you like the conversation part but aren’t comfortable asking for commitments, you are going to struggle to sell. If you like asking for commitments but don’t have too much to offer when it comes to conversations, you aren’t going to gain the commitments you need to move the deal forward.

Indeed, many consultants have a natural inclination to talk too much about themselves (having poor conversations) and then ask for a commitment that is simply too big (presenting solutions even if the prospect hasn't committed to making a change in their business, for example).

Questions for you:

  • Which conversations do you need to have more of?
  • What are the commitments you should be asking your prospects for, but you usually don't?

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