As I’ve suggested before, it’s always a good idea to requalify your prospect at the start of your demo or presentation. Doing so allows you to anticipate objections and position your presentation to speak to whatever resistance you may face later on.
When I make this suggestion, I get a lot of pushback from sales reps. “But if I ask for the deal before I’ve given the presentation, before I’ve given the value, they’ll just say no!” is the most common objection I get.
So let me make it clear: You’re not “asking for the deal” at the beginning, instead you’re using a trial close to access the next steps and to get a feel for the kind of pushback you might get at the end of your demo. Getting this information is crucial for you to leverage the rest of the call.
There are several ways to use a trial close. There’s the aggressive way below that is appropriate if you’ve been aggressive on the first call and identified the decision maker and time-frame. If you have, then something like this will work:
“_________, as we talked about last week, I’m going to go through everything now, answer any questions you have, and if, at the end of the demo today, you feel this will definitely help you drive more business, then is this something you can put to work for you today?”
Some sales reps (O.K., most sales reps) will be uncomfortable with this kind of requalifying because they haven’t done a thorough job up front. If that’s the case, then here is a softer trial close:
“_________, I’m looking forward to covering everything with you today. Just out of curiosity, if at the end you feel this is just what you are looking for, what would be the next steps to putting it to work for you?”
This is a soft, non-threatening way of finding out what his/her answer is going to be at the end when you ask for the sale. All of you have to agree you’d like to know that, right?
Another, in-between way, of requalifying at the beginning is:
“__________, at the end of today’s demo if you like what you see, is there anything that would prevent you from putting this to work for you in the next two weeks?”
The positive way of asking this is:
“__________, at the end of today’s demo if you like what you see, is this something you could put to work for you in the next two weeks?”
O.K., so there are the ways of using a trial close at the beginning. Now, what happens if you get push back? Here’s how to handle it. If you’re prospect says:
“I’m not ready to make a decision” (or any variation of that), you simply respond:
“That’s no problem and I’m not asking you to. We haven’t gone through the benefits here nor have I answered any of your questions. All I’m trying to get a feel for is IF you like what you see and you think there is value here for you and your company, what would you have to do to get this approved?”
“I’m with you and don’t mistake my question for pressure. All I’m asking is IF, after the end of our demo today, you see value here and want to pursue this, what are the next steps on your end?”
What you’re trying to do is isolate and uncover what the objection or stall is going to be at the end so you can position yourself to deal with it and advance the sale. For example, if your prospect then says something like:
“I’ll have to take it to the committee,” (or show it to the boss, etc.), then you isolate this now:
“I understand and most people I speak with do as well. Tell me, if you really like this, though, what kind of influence do you have over that process?”
“I’m with you. And if you are in favor of this, would that affect their decision?”
Again, you want to isolate the objection and understand the stall so you can deal with the close at the end better. For example, if your prospect tells you they DO have influence, then at the end of your demo, this is how you close:
“So, does this sound like something you feel is the right fit?”
[Get buy in here, then]:
“Great, then what can I do to help them agree with us?”
See how this goes?
If the objection or stall at the beginning of your demo is the “No budget” stall, then say:
“Please, I’m not asking you to invest in this right now, and we can deal with where you’d get the budget from later. All I want to know now is that IF you found value here and were determined to move forward, is there a way you could find the resources – again, if you were convinced?”
If the answer is no, then you need to deal with the money issue now rather than spend the next 45 minutes on a demo that will end with the same objection!
I know this isn’t going to be a popular answer for many of you – again, I know you’d rather pitch until you’re blue in the face – but if your prospect can’t afford to do it at the end, why would you want to?
What I’m suggesting here is what I’ve taught for many years, and what I personally do when closing on my training services: properly qualify prospects upfront – on the cold call or prospecting call – on the six qualifiers (which I’ve written about extensively elsewhere – check out my blog if you missed it), and then requalify before you waste the time of giving a long pitch to someone who isn’t or won’t buy at the end.
Doing this will make you a more successful closer – and a more confident one as well.