“I appreciate what you are saying,” responded Steve. He then continued saying to both Charles and Ingrid, co-owners of the insurance agency, “But I have a problem with what I’m hearing… it may be just my problem… could I ask you about it?”
This was Steve’s initial meeting with the co-owners, the result of a referral from Cathy, a prospect who did not buy. Cathy had called the co-owners and arranged for an appointment for Steve. After establishing rapport, Steve needed to find out if the co-owners had any need for his consulting services.
“We’d like that,” responded Ingrid, and Charles added in agreement, “Yes, please… what’s troubling you?”
“This is kind of awkward. A lot of times when I’m referred to new folks, like yourselves, well… I’m worried that you just agreed to this meeting since Cathy called you.”
“Oh,” said Ingrid, “you’re worried that we made the appointment just because Cathy called us.”
“That’s it,” responded Steve. “I don’t like to take up your time unless you really have some need for my services.”
Ingrid looked at Charles and nodded her head.
“Steve,” began Charles, “for the past year both of us have known we need to do something. Actually, we’ve talked to… what is it now? Four other consultants. Our feeling was that while one of them might have worked out, the other three were, to put it mildly, duds.”
“And the one that might have worked out… ?” asked Steve.
“He couldn’t give us any references that were suitable, and he was less than forthcoming about his fees.”
“I appreciate your sharing that information. If my references were in line, if the fees were in line, what would happen then?” Steve waited, knowing that both Ingrid and Charles were struggling with how to respond.
“Like we said,” responded Charles after quietly conferring with Ingrid for at least 30 seconds, “we know we need help. The past year was more of a struggle that it had to be. Yes,” he looked at Ingrid, who emphatically nodded in agreement, “we could see engaging you for at least six months.”
Steve is in the prospects’ future.
Understand that at this point in the conversation, Charles and Ingrid have no idea of what Steve charges nor have they heard from any of his current clients. The most they know about Steve is that someone they appear to trust, Cathy, a prospect who did not buy, felt strongly enough to arrange an appointment. Yet they have just both agreed that Steve could be in their future for at least six months.
Having the prospect seeing Steve in their future for at least six months puts Steve in a powerful position. Unless Steve blows it somewhere else later in the conversation, he has just been hired. In essence, they have just made a verbal and mental commitment to him.
Now they will both be looking for reasons to hire him instead of reasons not to hire him. Reread that line; it’s very important to understand what just happened.
Consider the standard buyer-meets-the-seller meeting. The buyer is generally looking for reasons not to buy, otherwise known as objections. The seller is generally prepared to counter the objections. The theory is that the seller, through persistence and sheer force of will, overcomes the objections, and the buyer finally gives up and signs on the dotted line. While this standard approach works, it works infrequently and is tremendously hard work.
Why not work in a way that is easier and produces more results?
You know the standard line. “If my references are in line, if my price is in line, will you buy today?” Asking the prospects if they will buy today is forcing the prospects to make a buying decision before they are ready. It’s a guaranteed way to create the “I’ve got to raise all the objections I can” mind-set in your prospects. No one likes to be pressured, especially when it comes to money. This is precisely what happens when you end with, “will you buy today?”
Should you end with “what will happen then?” you are forcing the prospects to picture your product or service in the future. If they don’t see the product or service in the future, it’s over. If they do see it in the future, you have a “live one.” Go for it!
By being in the prospect’s future, you have a prospect who is now looking for reasons to purchase from you.