31/08/2016 - 14:18

Fast track to the decision maker

31/08/2016 - 14:18

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Lots of time and money is wasted on sales proposals that are turned down, but if you think it’s not you … think again.

Fast track to the decision maker
BLOCKED: Getting your sales proposal to a decision maker will be tough if you don’t ask the right questions. Photo: Stockphoto

Lots of time and money is wasted on sales proposals that are turned down, but if you think it’s not you … think again.

How many proposals, bids, and quotes have you sent in your career? How many have you won? How many proposals, bids, and quotes have you sent this year?

How many have you won?

The reality is most proposals, bids, and quotes are lost.

I cannot help you win them all, but I can help you win a few more. The first mistake is you’re probably not talking to the real, final, or only decision maker – you’re trying to form a relationship with the wrong person.

Here is the rock solid strategy to prevent ‘sales separation’.

• Ask ‘how’ not ‘when’

The prospect asks for a proposal. What do you say? What do you ask? Most of you will probably ask when the decision will be made or what the budget is. Some kind of wallet-driven questions. Real answer: When the prospect asks you for a proposal, you ask, ‘How will the decision be made?’ Not ‘when’, not ‘who’. You’re trying to identify the decision-making process. In other words – your path to yes.

• Asking ‘who’

When you ask how the decision will be made, the prospect will likely respond that there’s a committee, and talk about when they meet, and that they decide, etc etc. Then you ask, ‘Great. Can you tell me their names?’ and you write down their names and titles.

• Budget

Maybe then you can aske whether they work from a set budget. Beginning a money dialogue at this point feels ok. Try to find out if they make the budget or just spend it (big difference). The person who makes the budget can easily add to it.

• The big question

‘Then what?’ After the prospect tells you that he, she or a committee decides, your next question is critical in your quest for the real decision maker (because I promise you it ain’t the committee). You ask, ‘Then what?’ Listen carefully to that answer because it contains the truth. The prospect will invariably say something like, ‘Well for orders over $25,000 we run it by the CFO, or I just run it by my boss, but he always takes our (my) recommendation.’ Yeah, right. In other words, the prospect or the big committee can’t do anything with out asking their daddy.

You respond with, ‘Great. What’s his name?’ Write it down, and go back at it with another ‘then what?’ The prospect says, ‘Well the CFO with orders of more than $100,000, has to run it by the CEO but he always takes our recommendation.’

Here’s what you’ve just learned: The CFO and the CEO are the decision makers, and the people you are presenting to can’t decide jack squat. They can make a recommendation, they can eliminate you, maybe for the wrong reasons, but they can’t select you and give you the order. Your job is now to get your proposal in the hands of the committee members, the CFO and the CEO with their names on them personally and spelled correctly.

Important: Get permission from your newly discovered non-decision maker, and do it in the way where he or she doesn’t feel like you are going over their head, or around them. Asking for their help and support creates a sense of inner-team, and as long as you have the customer’s best interests at heart, there should be no problem.

I think it’s necessary to warn you again about the phrase, ‘But he always takes our (my) recommendation.’ This just isn’t true.

If the CFO or CEO has another idea or connection, you will not be chosen.

Try this: Ask whether, if you are chosen by the committee, you can accompany your contact to the CFO meeting. At least you’ll get the real answer face-to-face.

Final reality: I learned this strategy very early in my sales career, and still use it today in one form or another.

‘How will the decision be made?’ followed by, ‘Then what?’ is the secret formula to discovering and getting your proposal to (and maybe even a meeting with) the real decision maker.

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.

© 2016 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


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