People don’t want quarter-inch drills. They want quarter-inch holes. – Theodore Levitt
Is the consultative selling process about persuasion?
Are you trying to bring someone round to your point of view? To get them to change their mind?
Or is it more complex than that?
Think about the last presentation you did or saw. What was it like?
The chances are that there were a fair number of slides. They went through the history of the company, what they do, how things work. Lots of stuff.
But… how much of it was useful? And did it get you to change your mind?
Well, to find out if something was useful or not, you need to start by asking what it is that you want in the first place.
I’m betting you haven’t really set that out. After all, who sits through a presentation if they already know what they want. You’re there to learn and see and make up your own mind.
Ah… there is a clue. What you want is to be able to make up your own mind. To make an informed decision.
I think that’s the point of a consultative sale. It’s not really about persuasion. It’s about informed decision making.
But what does that mean. How do you make an informed decision?
Well, an informed decision is not necessarily right or wrong. We usually can’t tell whether something will work out or not in advance. What we’re tying to do is arrange the facts we have in a way that makes sense – and tells a story that we’re comfortable with.
There are very few good books on creating good business presentations. Dr Andrew Abela’s is one. He is the author of Advanced Presentations By Design and has a free ebook on his site, where the matrix above comes from.
In any presentation situation, you need to figure out what you’re trying to get from the audience. What’s the result you want? What’s the end game?
Let’s say you’re trying to pitch your consulting service which helps companies design and deliver webinars to help with brand awareness and lead generation.
You know all about why companies should use this approach. For you, it’s a no-brainer and it’s hard to believe it when a prospect just doesn’t get it and why it’s worth the money.
Can you do anything about it? Can you create a pitch that will help people understand why this is such a great thing?
The answer to that is yes – and it starts by working your way through the matrix.
Think of a prospect that you’re trying to sell to right now. Perhaps it’s the owner of an office furniture provider. Someone that supplies desks and drawers and chairs to companies. Let’s assume it’s a “he” and has been in the business thirty odd years.
This person is not going to take to your product naturally. Perhaps he’s never been on a webinar himself. Maybe he knows what one is, but thinks it’s something only new high-tech businesses do. Not something for him.
What he’s thinking right now is that what you’re selling isn’t a priority. He doesn’t need it and can get along quite happily without it.
He’s even made the decision already as he’s listening to you – this isn’t something for him. There is no investment available.
So, what you’re using the matrix to work out is what he is thinking and doing right now. That gives you a clear understanding of where he stands on the issue.
If you just try and close for the order the chances are you’ll get a no. Or be thrown out. Depends how much patience he still has left.
Before you can go for the close, you need to get him to see the opportunity that’s out there. The one that he’s missing out on.
You need to take him from thinking this isn’t a priority to thinking that he can see what’s in it for him.
When he can see what’s in it for him, then he’s going to be more open to the idea that this is worth investing in.
And that might get him to open up his wallet. To ask you what he needs to do to sign up and buy what you have.
The starting point for your presentation, then, is not the last one you did or the bunch of slides you always use.
No, the starting point is for you to work out what you want your prospect to do.
Then, you need to get clear on what he’s thinking and doing right now. You need to know that because that’s where you’re going to start. By stepping into his shoes.
Then, you’re going to take him on a journey. A journey that will end with him thinking differently about what you’re putting in front of him.
So, how are you going to take him on that journey?
You’re going to do it with a story – and that’s the focus of the next post.
ps. As a reminder, this is the twelfth (or thirteenth) post in a series that I’m planning on eventually collecting into a book on Consultative Selling. If you are reading this and are interested in this topic, please let me have any feedback, good or bad, so I can make this as useful and easy to read for you as possible.