Pushing prospects may sound like sacrilege for some consultants. However, I’m not suggesting coercion, just a gentle nudge to move prospects in the right direction … forward … from deciding … to committing.
If you have confidence in your ability to improve the prospect’s state … push for the order.
Here’s why … sometimes events outside your prospect’s control can change things very quickly and unexpectedly. Unless you have a firm agreement those changes can undo your deal.
When I was a rookie salesman, one of the old hands mentored me. He told me about this sale he’d lost because he didn’t push for closure.
… I finished my presentation and asked the prospect, who was Financial Director, what he thought. He said that he liked what he’d seen and wanted to go ahead.
It was Friday afternoon. I was delighted. This was going to be a great way to end to my week.
All I needed now was his signature on an agreement. I had already prepared this and I pulled it out of my briefcase and slid it across the table. The prospect hesitated, then picked it up and read it.
He looked up. Said it looked fine but he wanted to just read it through one more time, over the weekend. He smiled and told me not to worry, it was just his way of doing things. I could drop by and pick it up on Monday.
I accepted his request. I felt a bit disappointed but I was prepared to wait. I didn’t want to seem pushy or unreasonable. We shook hands and I left, we agreed to meet again at 9am on Monday.
But we never got to meet again.
Sadly my prospect had a heart attack that weekend and passed away.
And, of course, the deal stalled. Nobody else could make a decision in his absence. When a new Financial Director was appointed he already had a preferred supplier in mind … and it wasn’t me.
After that , when prospects indicated they wanted to buy, I always put a little bit more pressure on myself and persisted until I had their signature. It was uncomfortable at first, but worth doing.
The lesson: Unexpected events can stop things moving ahead … a reorganisation, loss of political power, a rival offer from another consultancy, a new boss … Brexit, elections … mergers, hostile takeovers … even death.
So, once you reach ‘decision time’, don’t cut prospects any slack. You’ve worked hard on this opportunity. It’s your right to push for a firm commitment, even if it feels unnatural and uncomfortable at first.
It takes mental toughness to move from ‘order taker’ to ‘deal maker’. Stand firm. Handle last minute concerns. Get a written commitment.