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A Consultative Approach to Enrolling New Clients – Jim Rohrbach

“I’m Not Here to Sell You Anything!” …

Do you ever have trouble getting a prospect to take action, pull the trigger and become a paying client? A lot of my coaching work is done with salespeople who often haven’t done much in their career to upgrade their professional selling skills. They believe that because they have “the gift of gab” they can “wing it” during meetings with prospects. (No wonder their numbers are down!)

The following is a step-by-step approach I’ve adapted to my style and teach to my clients. I give much of the credit for what you’ll read here to the Nightingale-Conant audio programs Advanced Selling Techniques by Brian Tracy and Close The Deal from the Sandler Sales Institute.

Introduction with benefit. When beginning a relationship with a prospect, start with something like, “Hi!
I’m _______________________ with _________________________. We help people like you to __________________________.” You’d fill in the blanks with your name, your company and, most important, the main benefit you provide to your clients. For example — “Hi! I’m John Smith with Acme Benefits. We help our clients in companies like yours to sleep good at night instead of worrying about their health care coverage.” Ideally you want this statement to be catchy or memorable in some way — the idea is to get people to want to know more.

Positioning statement. The next step is to mention what you do, and perhaps what you don’t do. So you might say, “I’m really a consultant, and my role is to help you make good choices for yourself about your situation. What I don’t do is sell, promote or recommend anything before I know exactly what’s in your best interest.”

Ask permission to ask questions. The Sandler Sales Institute calls this step the Up Front Contract — you ask prospects for explicit permission to ask questions.

Example: “I’d like to get 15 or 20 minutes of your time to ask you a few questions about where you’re at currently, where you want to get to, and what might be getting in your way. Then we can decide if it makes sense to do something further together, or not. Does that sound fair?” A few discussion points about this powerful sales tactic:

• “15 – 20 minutes” You’re indicating this will be brief, and you won’t take up much time. (Prospects who have a real need will choose to extend this time frame.)

• “…we can decide … to do something further together …” This implies you and your prospects are going to collaborate — that you won’t be begging for their business.

• ” … or not.” What prospects hear: It’s OK to say “no,” so they can relax — you’ve given them an out if they need it. (It also implies you can say “no” too — this helps you screen out poor prospects.)

• “Does that sound fair?” No one has ever said “no” to this seemingly innocuous question. And when prospects say “yes,” — congrats! You now have control of the sales process, because the person who’s asking the questions is in control, not vice versa.

Start the interview. Proceed with a consultative interview, using a series of questions in a logical sequence to determine your prospects’

1. Pain, need or gap between where they are now versus where they could be with your product or service.

2. Budget/Value $$$ — what kind of money they’ve set aside to address any problems you uncover, and what the value of your product/service would be above and beyond their investment.

3. Decision making process — who else besides the person you’re in front of is involved with moving forward, what’s their time frame, and what would they need to be convinced of to know working with you would be a great decision for themselves and their firm.

Your skillful use of questions in these three areas will be all you need to determine if you and your prospects are truly a good fit. I assign all of my producer clients to script these questions out and use them on every sales call — only amateurs “wing it,” and they usually are checking the want ads for a new job in short order.

Directive close. If there is a good fit, Brian Tracy suggests you tell your prospects the exact steps they will need to go through to become an active client. “If this sounds interesting to you, the way it works is ____________________________.” Then SHUT UP!

The prospect will either agree to proceed to the next step (which might entail a proposal or presentation), or will present an objection. If there is an objection, go back to the interview to determine what their real concerns are. Redefine these in terms of their “conditions of satisfaction” — what must they get from you in order to feel comfortable moving forward. Then restate the steps for becoming a client, then silence. (Note: if another meeting is required, you MUST set a firm appointment — date, time and agenda — even if by phone, to keep the process moving. No next-step appointment? No sale is likely.)

Proposal/presentation. You may think this is out of place here, but you must refrain from doing a proposal or presentation for your product or service until prospects have answered your interview questions satisfactorily. The key concept of this entire strategy is not to do dog and pony shows, but instead to qualify prospects first through questions and get their commitment BEFORE you deliver your proposal/presentation.

I learned a perfect analogy from Tracy: A doctor who would prescribe a treatment plan for a patient before doing a thorough examination and diagnosis is engaging in malpractice — why would it be different for you and your prospects?

I realize this is a simplified outline for handling the ins and outs of any high-level sale. I greatly respect any sales professional who is using this type of approach on a potential large sale, with its multiple calls, elusive characters, political intrigue and seemingly endless sales cycle. If that describes YOU, I know you’re well on your way to Close The Deal!
Success Skills Coach Jim Rohrbach, “The Personal Fitness Trainer for Your Business,” coaches business owners, entrepreneurs and sales professionals on growing their clientele. He has helped hundreds of individuals to achieve their goals since he developed his first coaching program in 1982. You can visit Jim on the web at www.SuccessSkills.com.