We’re all problem solvers. This is the fundamental characteristic that makes us great at servicing our clients. It’s also one of the biggest reasons why professionals struggle to sell more high value strategic work and get stuck doing time consuming, low value work.
Of course, there are important foundations you need to put in place to prepare your business for rapid growth. Like packaging your services in the right way and getting clear on your message. BUT if you want to enjoy the fruits of that labour, you must CHANGE your client conversations.
The “old” conversation
First, let’s have a look at what you’re conversations are probably like right now.
1. The client comes to you with a problem
2. You ask them a few questions to clarify the problem
3. You tell the client how you can fix the problem for them
4. The client says it sounds good and asks you for a quote
5. You spend time drafting up a scope and fee quote document and send it to your client
6. You wait for a response and often your need to follow your client up
Does this sound familiar?
Problems with the old approach
The old (and comfortable) approach gets us stuck and makes it very hard to position ourselves as providers of value added services. This is because:
- Your conversation is purely transactional – that is, you’ve learnt only about an immediate problem your client needs solved
- When you give the solution too soon, your client starts to focus on “price”
- You get the “fire fighter” experience –you feel you need to have all the right answers to your clients questions there and then
- Everyone else sells in this same way so your client sees you as a commodity instead of value-add
The new conversation
When I created the Licence to Bill 12 Step Sales Process, the objective was to help professionals:
- Communicate their value to clients;
- Position us as business advisers in our area of expertise and move away from low value, transaction based practices; and
- Sell more without being perceived as “pushy sales people”
The sales process, which is one of the things I work with my clients on as part of my 12 month revenue growth program, is based on a few key principles. I’ll share 3 of these with you over the next few weeks.
PRINCIPLE – Don’t mistake giving advice as a sales conversation
For many professionals, when our client asks us a question or tells us about a problem we know we have an easy solution to, we jump in to tell them. It may be that we want to demonstrate our expertise. Or it could be reflex reaction to being asked a question (that we need to answer it).
BUT did you know when you jump to giving your client advice and telling them about the solution you’ve actually short circuited your clients decision making process?
When your client buys from you, they don’t just make that single decision. There is a series of micro decisions they make about you leading up to that decision to engage you.
When you give advice in your sales conversation, you’ve just jumped multiple steps in the decision making process and are basically asking your client to make the engagement decision before they’re ready.
As a result, your client jumps straight to thinking about price.
FIRST STEP TO TRY IN YOUR NEXT CONVERSATION:
Avoid talking about your solution. Instead focus on what outcomes your solution could achieve for your client. Because getting clear on the desired outcomes is one of the many micro decisions your client needs to make before they decide to engage you.
Next week, I’ll share with you the next principle which will explain why you get the “fire fighter” experience in some of your conversations.
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