On Uncovering the Prospect’s Hidden Motives…

In our firm, we get a chance to talk to many business owners and their managers during the course of any given week.  Often times they call or email us because they realize that they are suffering from poor – or non-existent – sales and marketing processes and want our help.

Now, as every salesperson worth their salt knows, just because you get a call or a lead, it doesn’t mean that this person is actually a customer – or a good one anyway.  We all know we have to qualify leads to see if we should invest the time (and money) to engage with them further than the initial phone call. 

For our practice, we want to discern if in fact they can be coached effectively to tackle their “problem” (what the true problem is tends to be another matter, but that is not for this post).  In other words, “Are they invested?”, “Are they realistic in their expectations?”, “Is the ‘project’ real or is it a cover up of some kind?”, “Are they the economic buyer?”, the usual stuff.

We tend to keep the initial conversation short – capture a high level overview, but nothing more.  The next step in our sales cycle is to guide them to our online “interview” that will go more in depth into their goals, perceived needs, their relative experience with how tech projects and coaching works, etc.

This online form serves several purposes, a few being: helping the prospect to more fully visualize what they are trying to do (the value of this more than compensates them for their effort), providing us with further valuable information to assist us in continuing the conversation effectively, and perhaps most importantly:  Will they take the time to complete it?

See, most of the questions are required.  And a significant portion of the questions are not multiple choice.  This is not by chance.  While it does indeed give us valuable insight so as to be better positioned to help the client should we continue through the project discussion, it silently uncovers their general attitude about “solving” their alleged pain(s).

Simply stated:  If you are TRULY invested in fixing, alleviating, removing, improving, <fill in your action word here> – a problem, lack, challenge, obstacle – that you know is hurting your business or your wallet, wouldn’t you take the 10 to 15 minutes to provide the requested information an expert needs so as to discern more how he/she might help?  I think most of us would say that this is the reasonable thing to do.

When was the last time you visited a new doctor and refused to fill out the plethora of questionnaires you are given before being seen?  Ha!  I’d like to see you try it and actually make it beyond the waiting room with the 8 month old issue of AARP magazine.

So, when we field calls from folks who claim they need help, yet subsequently refuse to complete our initial intake form, we can conclude one or more things regarding their attitude about the project:

  • This person is not invested in their “project”, and therefore never will be.
  • They feel that they are above having to answer the questions, and thus will never listen to our advice even if they pay for it.
  • We are looking at an iceberg:  they are not sharing the full story, do not want to, and it will take us down during the project if we ignore it.

With the EXTREMELY rare exception, we wish the “non-compliant” our best, and move on, finding and working with those folks who truly want us to help make them more profitable.

Point:  If you have been selling your product for more than 90 days, you have a pretty good idea of how your sales process best works.

This is not (or should not be anyway) something arbitrarily cooked up by your firm for your convenience.  Rather, a refined, well-managed sales process is a VALUE-ADD, a SERVICE for your customers.  You do it a certain way for them so as to make their sales experience, and the resulting purchase, the most effective and comfortable you know how.

When you run into folks who think your sales process is at them and try to manage it for you, run, don’t walk.  This prospect will never be an ideal client, likely never be a customer at all, so focus elsewhere.

Action Item: Make sure your sales funnel has a a stage up front that helps uncover the motive – or at least the likely hood of “playing nice” – of the prospect.  This will save many wasted hours on bogus proposals and much heartache from bad customers.

If you could use help defining and refining your firm’s sales process, give us a call today – we can help!


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