After spending months in meetings, logging a ton of phone calls, and sitting across from a prospective client for days in negotiation, you get the project. The hard part is behind you â€“ or is it? Bringing in your dream deal is a great achievement, but if you cannot deliver on your promises, that dream could turn into a nightmare that buries your company.
Stiff competition exists in pretty much every market niche today, whether product or service. Growing revenues means selling more, which means offering better, faster, cheaper, or, better yet, all three. A tempting trap that snares many salespeople as they race the competition for prospectsâ€™ business is to make commitments that are beyond the companyâ€™s ability to deliver, that will stretch available resources to a dangerous extent, or that commit too many resources to a single client.
When you or your sales staff submit a proposal to a prospect, you put a lot on the line â€“ your company, your reputation, even your employeesâ€™ salaries. Regardless of what you are selling, the only way to justify that kind of investment is to deliver on your promises. Offering the prospect bigger, faster, or cheaper will only work if you can follow through; if you canâ€™t, itâ€™s only a matter of time before you get replaced by a competitor. Having this happen even once can put your company in jeopardy â€“ negative word of mouth travels almost at the speed of light, and an unhappy client can tarnish a companyâ€™s reputation beyond recovery.
So you have to be able to beat out the competition and deliver the goods, which is no small feat. How do you motivate prospect to hire you instead of someone else without overpromising or making commitments that donâ€™t make strategic sense for you? Here are some recommendations for getting the business and staying in business.
Understand exactly and clearly what you are offering. If you have a sales team, train them properly so they can sell what you offer without extra embellishments.
Know your competition. Gather as much intelligence as possible about what they are offering, how they are selling, and why prospects do or donâ€™t select them.
Do your homework. Gather as much intelligence about your prospect as possible. The more you know about the customerâ€™s company and the challenges they are facing, the better edge you will have.
Have a clear objective framed before you meet the prospect. Stay focused on this objective and avoid improvisation. For example, if your objective is to set up a demo of your product in a second meeting, quell the temptation to make a sale even if the conditions seem conducive.
Be prepared to answer any and all questions about your product and/or service. Rehearse possible scenarios beforehand so that you will be prepared to field a range of issues, queries, or objections.
Demonstrate your belief in what you are selling. Prospects can spot a hard sales pitch a mile off, and they know whether or not the person in front of them really believes in what they are selling.
Stand beside the prospect. Not literally, but in the sense that you see the product or service from their point of view and understand the benefits within their context. This allows you to make a connection beyond the sales pitch.
Be honest with the prospective client. This may not be as easy as it sounds. It takes courage. If the customer asks if you can deliver something that you know is beyond your capability, tell the truth. Focus on presenting solutions if any are available. For example, if the request is outside your capabilities but you know of a company that can fill the bill, offer to include them in your proposal as a sub-contractor that you will manage.
Make sure that whatever you propose fits your own company objectives and can be delivered as promised. Analyze your own risks and have back up plans for any occurrence that could jeopardize the successful completion of the proposed project.
Finally, leave the prospect with a positive and accurate memory of how you can help their company. If you have shown them realistic and proven ways of supporting their objectives, they will have realistic view or your product or service, and you will keep their attention and interest long after youâ€™ve left the room.
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