CRYSTAL balls. Don’t you wish you had one when you were preparing for a big sales call? Even more when you were in a big sales presentation? Great news: A sales crystal ball is nothing more than taking a look at information derived from reading existing stuff and then asking powerful questions about it. Information that, when understood, will predict the future, the outcome. Predicting the future is actually pretty easy, when you’re armed with 3.5 things. 1. Information about the prospect and his business. 2. The right questions. 3. An idea or two that helps the prospect. 3.5 The ability to see and understand the customer’s big picture. There are two places to find crystal ball information – the past and the present. No rocket science there. Just look at the elements of each time period – how the past and present affected the prospect and his use of your product and/or service – and presto, you create your own ability to predict the future. Cool. Here is the information you need in order to become a successful predictor of the future (of your order). Study the past. The past may have pain – it’s where experience comes from. Success and failure have their roots in what has already transpired. Your job is to gather the historical information so you can understand the best way to communicate your ability to help in the future. Knowing the past is an easy way to gain an insight to, and understanding of, the present. • Study the customer’s original needs. • Study how they and why they bought before. • Study all the players and their emotional ebbs. • Study how the decision was made. • Study the problems that surfaced and how they were resolved. The key word is study. Be present in the present. The present is fleeting. No-one (especially your prospect) has time to do much more than put out fires, and deal with the day to day. Stephen Covey differentiates between urgent and important in his Habit #3: Put first things first. And that’s the real path to success. If you are able to get your prospect to see you as important, you can get him away from what he perceives as urgent (but really isn’t). Urgent is his situation – important is your ability to communicate help. (Note: Help first, get the order second.) • Collect information about what’s working and not working from the customer’s point of view. Share your company’s perception of these issues. • Collect information about the changes that have taken place in the customer’s company, how they have impacted the decision makers who your company has worked with in the past, and how that relates to their present situation. • Study their website. • Read all company literature, newsletters, annual reports, and their industry trade magazines.Become fluent in the prospect’s company and industry. • Determine what past problems still exist – and may be preventing present success. • Share recent changes in the industry with the customer and what the impact of those changes will be on the prospect’s business. • Share the changes that your company is going through, and the impact of those changes on the customer. • Share your big picture in a way that creates a leadership image. Talk about and ask about the future. People love to talk about their plans and dreams. If you can get them going, they may see (and verbalise) how you fit in. Past is important, present is more important, future is most important – because that’s where you will develop and live your relationship. You need to know the path your prospect wants to take -- their road map, their vision – so you can get on that path, and become part of that vision. • Ask about the company’s specific future plans and needs. Find out the one big goal or project for the year. Find out specific plans for achievement. See if you are in any way able to help them achieve it, even if it’s not directly dealing with your product or service. • Ask the customer about what changes they see, future industry trends, and what impact they will have. Ask them how these changes will affect their business. • When appropriate, share your industry trends that will affect how your company will do business in the future, and how those trends will impact your business. • Share some of your company’s future plans. Show how that will establish (or maintain) a leadership position. Nothing complicated presented here. On the surface it appears to be just basic fundamental blocking and tackling. Almost. It’s executing the fundamentals from the customer’s perspective. It’s information that impacts the prospect’s point of view – you know, the only one that matters. I’m looking into my crystal ball, and I see big sales in your future. Do you? Free GitBit. Want a list of powerful questions you can modify for your sales presentations? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the words POWER QUESTIONS in the GitBit box. By Jeffrey Gitomer.