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Getting to "yes"

 
#1 Getting to "yes"
09/07/2007 14:11

C

As a consultant, I get very cheesed off by indecisive people and drawn-out sales processes.

What is the best way of getting a potential client to make their mind up and ideally say "yes" rather than umming and ahhing for weeks on end?

------

And, unrelated to sales, what is the best way to get a client to actually do something basic like set up a meeting when you've been chasing them for weeks and simply nothing is happening (assume the client has other priorities that tend to steal the focus of his attention very often)?

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#2 RE: Getting to "yes"
09/07/2007 15:20

Village Idiot to C (#1)

How long would it take you to make a £500k decision? The fact is, selling consulting services takes time -- you're not selling ice cream cones. The higher up the value chain you go, the more people internally there are that need to be convinced of the value you'll bring.

In terms of getting to 'yes' quickly, there are a number of things to bear in mind:

1. Make sure each meeting gets you closer to 'yes'. Good conversations are very pleasant, but don't help convert into sales.

2. Ensure you've got a burning platform. Don't waste time pursuing sales that aren't on the forefront of your clients' agenda.

3. Realise who the economic buyer is. You can spend ages having good conversations (see above) with people who don't have control over the consulting spend.

4. Understand when to walk away -- not all business is worth pursuing. 'Slow burn' is good to keep in the background, but should never make up the majority of your consulting portfolio.

There are any number of books about selling high-value services that offer good coaching around the sales cycle and expediting it.

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#3 RE: Getting to "yes"
09/07/2007 15:36

C to Village Idiot (#2)

Hi VI, thank you for this very helpful advice. I really wanted practical comments like those - so thank you.

Re: the £500K bit... I'm a bit of a bottom-feeder and whilst I've worked for big companies in the past, right now I'm working as a little pleb for a small company on bothersome little £10-20K assignments. We'd love a nice £100K job or similar, but the truth is we just don't get them. In fact, some of my clients are so stingy, getting them to say "yes" to a £5K project or even an ad-hoc 1 day bit of advice with tons of intellectual capital thrown in is like getting blood out of a stone. Such is the world of low-end consulting.

Do you have any other advice given the above 'spin' on the situation? Thank you in advance.

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#4 RE: Getting to "yes"
09/07/2007 21:17

Village Idiot to C (#3)

Sadly, the simplest advice would be "don't bother". Someone who is only prepared to spend £5-10k on consultancy isn't really in the market for consultancy to begin with -- they're not sure what they're buying and it is probably a comparatively large part of their budget. In many ways, it's tougher to sell a £5k piece of work than a £500k piece of work.

In either case, though, I'd focus on demonstrating the value the work will bring rather than the cost. When presented with the cost/benefit of their investment, the decision should be simple (or you're not doing your job).

Do a search -- I answered a similar question from Senior Vice President a month or two ago. Do a search on 'SPIN selling' and you'll find the thread.

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