May 15, 2008

Strike While The Fire Is Hot

Question: When is the best time to put a proposal or work agreement in front of a client?

Answer: The same day you've properly identified their needs. STRIKE WHILE THE FIRE IS HOT!

Why is it critical to strike when the fire is hot?

I met with a potentially decent client about five weeks ago. They were *very* interested in my work, and basically nodded and appeared to approve the deal in person. However, I was busy at the time and unable to get them a proposal for a week and a half. That's too long! We must strike when the fire is hot. I'll tell you what happened after that.

The response after receiving my proposal was not to continue as planned, but rather "I'm busy and can't get to this for a week." Ugh! So, I waited two weeks to give the Vice President time to determine when they could move forward. This week, I emailed him and left a phone message to see how they wanted to move forward. He didn't call me back. Instead, he emailed me "I thought I responded when you sent the proposal, this just isn't in our budget this year. Hopefully we can do something in the future."
Wow. Did I blow it, or what?

Now, the good news is I've got three new prospects in his place, but still - I wanted their business! It bummed me that I'd had a hot fire and let it cool before proposing. By showing him that it wasn't a top priority to get him the proposal, he treated my service as a lower priority, too. Not only that, but by giving him time to think it over, other vendors may have approached him in a more timely manner. This is why we want to eliminate the "I'll think about it" response from the closing cycle. It was my fault, and I've learned from the experience.

In the timeshare business, they're experts at eliminating the "I'll think about it" objection. Saying "I'll think about it" is really just a "nice" way of saying "no" or "not now" isn't it? To get around "I'll think about it" the timeshare business will offer you two choices to buy their program. The first is a standard program, which usually costs a lot more and doesn't offer very generous terms. The second is their premiere program, what they really want you to buy, and offers much more flexibility and discount incentives to purchase the day you're there.

How can that be applied to other businesses?

For one example, I've created a new process whenever I propose my "Top Ten Search" service. Instead of telling people "I'll put together a proposal" I put together a proposal BEFORE I meet with them. Then, while we meet, I clarify that the proposal meets their needs. That way, I can show them a complete work agreement document and spreadsheet for pricing WHILE I AM THERE! I also offer a discount if they approve and do it that day (an extra 10%) and also include an additional service at no additional cost if they agree to it on the spot.

This achieves several things to help me close more business. First, I eliminate the delay between meeting and proposal. Second, I eliminate the "I'll think about it" obstacle, to a certain degree. Third, I shorten the sales cycle.

What other ways can you think of to eliminate the "I'll think about it" objection and strike when the fire is hot? Can you think of additional tips to include here?

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