We’ve probably all heard these words after a client presentation:
“Thank you very much. That was very interesting. We’ll give your presentation due consideration and let you know.”
We typically go away and wait….and wait. Each day thinking we haven’t got the work. Each day wondering what we should do. Should we phone or email? What should we say? Our heart gradually sinks. We imagine all that good work going down the drain and the client gradually forgetting all those powerful selling messages that we put across.
But we shouldn’t worry. Psychologists and sales practitioners believe there’s a natural phase where clients need to carefully assess the risks and benefits of your offering and this takes time.
After all, it’s a big decision and they will want to be rational and assess the benefits and risks to the business as well as to themselves, personally.
Business Benefits and Risks
Clients will probably already know you can do the work. They wouldn’t have got this far in the discussions without confirming this.
There are strategic risks to consider. To what extent will you as the service provider match the long term aspirations of the business? To what extent do you share the values of the business? Could we form an effective, risk-sharing partnership with this provider?
There are tactical risks as well. How will everything work day-to-day? Will I know what’s going on? Will you manage the risks that are important to us? Will you get all the operational things right, such as invoice us in the right way?
Also there are often several individuals affected by the decision. These are what might be called political risks. What will my colleagues think about my decision in the other parts of the organisation?
Personal Benefits and Risks
There are also personal risks and these are sometimes the most important. There are two issues that clients will focus on that relate to their personal positions:
- Will the service provider help me look good? Will my boss be impressed? Will they help me hit my KPI’s, targets and help me get my bonus? Will their appointment be career enhancing?
- Will it reduce the hassle in my life? Help me sleep better at night? Reduce my stress?
So What Should You Do
Adopting a more rigorous pitching process should alleviate the “we’ll let you know” syndrome. By elucidating the needs of the organisation and the individuals at the client up front, we can shorten the time frame to assess the options and make the decision.
Here are some specific questions to help you find out the important client needs:
- Who are the decision-makers?
- What criteria will they be using to select the right firm?
- What are the critical business needs in terms of expertise, rigour, geography, speed, added value etc?
- What aspects of service are important to them and what are not?
Another technique is to use better ‘closing’ procedures. Sophisticated selling businesses often take small steps each time rather than asking for the business prematurely. For example, it might be better to arrange to meet other decision-makers and build relationships with them, before pitching.
There’s also the famous Winston Churchill Close involving a blank piece of paper and the service provider facilitating the prospect making the decision. For a fuller description of this technique see https://tonyreiss.com/2012/01/29/the-winston-churchill-close-to-a-sales-pitch-a-helpful-process-or-inappropriate-use-of-sleight-of-mouth/
For more insights into the art of pitch presentations, see https://tonyreiss.com/2012/07/19/really-impressive-presentations-to-win-the-pitch/
For more insights into this phase of the buying process see http://imparta.com