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?
Predicting the future is actually pretty easy if you’re armed with three things:
- Information about the prospect and his business.
- The right questions.
- The ability to see the big picture.
Susan C. Gatton, a sales consultant who specializes in sales strategies for Fortune 500 Companies says, “A crystal ball is nothing more than taking a broad look at information derived from reading existing stuff and asking powerful questions. Information that (if understood) will predict the future.”
Gatton continues, “There are three places to gain crystal ball information. Past, present, and future. Just look at the elements of each time period, and how they affect the prospect and his use of your product and/or service, and presto, you create your own ability to predict the future.” Pretty cool huh?
Here is the information you need from each of the three in order to become a successful predictor of the future (of your order):
The Past. The past may have pain it’s where experience has come 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 understanding of the present.
Review the customer’s original needs.
Review how they and why they bought before.
Review the players and their personalities.
Review how the decision was made.
Review the problems which surfaced and how they were resolved.
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 his Habit #3 (Put first things first) is the real path to success. If you are able to get your prospect to see the 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 is working ,and not working from the customer’s point of view, and share your company’s perception of these issues.
Collect information about the changes which have taken place in the customer’s company, how they have impacted the decision makers whom your company has worked with in the past, and how that relates to their present situation.
Read all company literature, newsletters, annual reports, and industry trade magazines. Become fluent in the prospects company and industry.
Determine what past problems still exist and may be preventing present success.
Share with the customer the recent changes in the industry, or other experiences, 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 and experience in a way that creates a leadership image.
The Future. People love to talk about their dreams. If you can get them going, they may see (and verbalize) 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 his company’s specific future plans and needs find out the one big goal, or big project for the year. Find out specific plans for achievement.
Ask the all decision makers about their future plans.
Ask the customer about what changes they see, future industry trends and what impact they will have.
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 and 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 fundamentals from the customers perspective. It’s information from 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?
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