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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

Last week, we addressed two mistakes you’re making that are keeping you from a 50 to 80 percent close rate. Today, we’ll continue with three more.

Let’s pretend you performed steps one and two effectively. Your reputation as an expert preceded you, so credibility was established before the meeting began. And, as you started the meeting, a clear set of expectations was agreed upon. Now, it’s time to find out if you can help Mrs. Prospect.

Mistake #3: Didn’t dig deep enough

The goal at this point is to discover what her “pain” is. But, it’s not just surface-level pain; you want to dig deeper and learn what’s truly causing that pain. For example, she may say that her current provider has been raising his prices, so she’s looking for another option because it costs too much now. On the surface, this sounds like her pain is in the price. But, by just asking one more question, you can learn a lot.

Try something like this: “When you told him you thought his price was too high, what did he say?”

She probably wasn’t ready for this question, and it’ll force her to go a little deeper. She might tell you she hasn’t brought it up with him, or she may say he told her there was nothing he could do about it. Either answer could lead to another question. If she hasn’t brought it up, you could ask why not. If the current provider said price was out of his control, you could ask how that made her feel. In either case, you’re digging deeper to learn more about her pain.

Let’s say she hasn’t brought it up with him yet, and when you ask why, she shares that there have been some customer service issues recently, so when the price increased, it gave her a reason to start looking at other options. And, now you’re getting to the real problem – customer service.

Mistake #4: Budget wasn’t clear

Ever get to a point in a new business conversation where you think, “This is a no-brainer”? You’re confident this one is a done deal. And then you start discussing budget and everything goes south!

“I didn’t realize it would be that much,” comes back from Mrs. Prospect.

If you run into this one often, you should bring up budget/price earlier in the conversation, possibly even when you’re setting expectations for the meeting.

“Mrs. Prospect, one thing I want to get out on the table right away is that our widget can cost anywhere from $40 to $100. As we begin our conversation, I want to make sure you know where we stand on price.”

Price can even be addressed as early as the homework step – it can be completely straightforward and listed as budget levels to select (I recently started including specific price ranges in my homework), or as The Ruby Group does with their homework form, there is a clear question about “How much are these problems costing you per year?” In either case, the goal is to get the prospect thinking about budget before you walk in the door.

Mistake #5: Talking with the wrong person

Here’s another question: When you get to the end of your discussion, and everything seems to be moving along well, does Mrs. Prospect say, “Okay. Great. I just need to share this with Bob and Stacy, and we should be good to go.”

While this may sound like a good “next step,” it’s actually one of the worst things that can happen on a sales call. You’ve spent a good 45-50 minutes learning, asking questions, discussing options, and then you find out that the person you’re talking to isn’t the final decision maker! Now, you have to start all over when you get in front of Bob and Stacy…if you’re lucky enough to get in front of them!

Another point that can be addressed when setting expectations for the meeting is to understand who the key players are and what the decision-making process is for the company. It’s better to find out early on that Bob and Stacy will need to be pulled in, rather than be surprised with this information at the end of a meeting.

Ideally, when you find out others are involved in the decision process, you could ask that those people be brought into the meeting today. But, if that’s not possible, this knowledge will help as you go through the process with Mrs. Prospect today. You can ask questions like, “How do you think Bob would feel about that?” Or “Does Stacy deal with those same issues?”

You may be able to jump all over these five mistakes, starting tomorrow! Or, these concepts may take some time to put into practice. Taking one at a time is probably best. Start with one and see how it goes. Then, over time, begin to apply these other tactics one by one.

Ultimately, you’re meeting with Mrs. Prospect because you think you can help her. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure you get to that point a lot quicker.

Matt White is owner of JoltCMS, where he helps businesses help their customers.

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