You’ve done the work to determine if your potential client is in a position to act on something helpful.
Too often, when there is a crisis, you might also be operating in somewhat of a crisis. You could be in a mindset of scarcity, where you think that you have to land every potential opportunity. Your business could be struggling. So, how do you land that next deal?
Once you determine that your clients in a given market are not paralyzed, consider what might be their most pressing 2 or 3 challenges that they are facing right now. If you cannot help in one of those areas, and they are in crisis, then they are not going to make a decision to introduce change, which they will see as an additional risk, to work with you. But, if you can address one of their 2 or 3 top challenges, then you are on your way to a potential opportunity.
You can either show up to a potential client in one of two ways: 1) someone there to sell something or 2) someone there to solve something. And, in a crisis, nobody has patience for the person just trying to sell something. Oh - and they don’t have much more patience for stereotypical “Sellers” when NOT in crisis.
Once you know that you have a client where you can be helpful, you need to determine if this problem is a high priority for them. This is where things get a bit counterintuitive.
In order to move forward with any sort of change, your potential client has to be convinced that the problem they are facing is worth solving, and they also have to have the confidence that you can deliver the results that they need. This is true in normal circumstances and is especially true in times of crisis. But, guess who has to do the convincing? It’s not you… it’s them. THEY have to convince YOU that the problem is worth solving. AND, they have to CONVINCE YOU that they believe in the results you can deliver. Why is that?
DON’T TRY TO CONVINCE
LET THEM CONVINCE YOU
Well, in times of crisis, priorities can change quickly. There will be multiple perceived FIRES or EMERGENCIES that require attention. If your potential client isn’t fully committed to the Impact of not solving the problem and if they are not a believer in the results you can deliver, then when challenged by others in their own organization, it’ll be too easy for them to back down.
The best way to appreciate this is with a medical example. You are the doctor. If a patient came to you with mild symptoms, and you (as the doctor) diagnosed a serious condition with an associated treatment, you might think you’ve done enough. But, the patient, when given enough time, thinks, “my symptoms aren’t that bad.” They may not remember all of the details that you shared. So, other things grab their attention. They think, “I don’t think this is that important. Maybe I’ll blow off my next visit for the treatment, and instead, take a fun trip with the family.”
It’s not because you were a bad doctor. It’s just that the patient wasn’t convinced the problem was serious enough to take action.
Instead, let’s say that you did an outstanding job of showing the evidence including assessments and tests that allow them to conclude that their condition was serious. You ask and answer enough questions that they ultimately convince you that their condition is serious. You now show them your recommended treatment, and they acknowledge that it’s just what they need to survive. Then, you say, “See ya later,” and start to exit the room. The patient would probably tackle you and let you out of the room UNTIL you outlined the treatment protocol and next steps.
It’s the same thing in business and selling. Let your clients convince you that their Issue has enough Impact and its relative Importance is high enough to make it worth your time to help them find a solution.
What might that sound like? Let’s say you work for an enterprise software company and your prospect came to you about fixing a manufacturing problem. After hearing a description of the underlying issue as they describe it, you might ask a question like, “For some clients, the situation you described is a nuisance. For others, it’s a big problem. In your case, what happens if you don’t solve this?” Now we have to listen. Because they are either going to convince you, or they won’t. If they just don’t know, it could be that they don’t know the answer. You can help make suggestions about the impact on other clients. HOWEVER, you cannot answer the question for them. You might say, “For our other clients, they tell us that the problem you described puts them months behind the competition. Do you think they are exaggerating?” In this case, you are establishing an example, and being skeptical that it applies in this situation. Once again they get to convince you.
Ultimately, the format to follow in these meetings is the Same Side Quadrants which we cover in great detail within the Same Side Selling Academy Core Material. It’s also on page 76 of the Same Side Selling Book. Let me give you the abridged version:
We take notes on a sheet of paper in this pattern: On a blank sheet of paper, draw a vertical line down the center and a horizontal line across the page. In the upper left quadrant, we take notes about their ISSUE - or what they are trying to solve. In the upper right, we take notes about their impact or - what happens if they don’t solve the problem. In the lower-left, we write notes about our mutual understanding of what the results need to be. And, in the lower right, we take notes about who else needs to be involved.
These quadrants are directly aligned with the research we’ve done with thousands of executives on how they make and approve decisions. In fact, they are directly aligned with the questions that people ask when making buying decisions.
Especially in times of crisis, you need to focus on their needs and not what you want to sell. Show up with empathy for their situation and seek areas where you can help. Once you uncover an area of opportunity, let them convince you using the Same Side Quadrants as your guide.
In the 3rd lesson in this course, we’ll cover how to successfully manage remote meetings.