Consulting room: How to increase the probability of a sale

Consulting room: How to increase the probability of a sale

Let's assume the prospect has a problem to solve and they are going to buy a technology solution from someone. The question now in the prospect's head is "Who should I buy from"?

Ideally, you'd like it to be you. But what can you do to ensure they will buy from you? Contrary to what most people think and do, it's not by rushing in and telling them how wonderful your technology solution is. Often that will have the opposite effect and even lose you the sale.

In fact, you can encourage a customer to choose you before you ever talk about your technology solution by strongly influencing the decision criteria so that your offering becomes the obvious and logical choice.

Before you talk about your technology solution, you must find out what your prospect's decision criteria are. If they have parameters you cannot meet, there is no point going any further and talking about your technology solution. It would be a complete waste of your time and theirs.

If you cannot meet one of their decision criteria, be very open about it and tell them. Ask for more detail and explore whether it’s truly insurmountable. There may be some flexibility for an equivalent or a substitute, but you won't know if you don't ask.

If any decision criteria cannot be modified and is critical to them, then your technology solution is not for them and you should honestly recommend they look somewhere else. Only proceed with the sales process if you mutually agree that the criteria is not critical.

Assuming you can meet all the decision criteria they have stated or restated, you must now suggest additional criteria they should add if they want to obtain the best solution available for their requirements. This is the magic part where you act to increase your chances.

Think about your prospect for a moment: How often do they make this sort of buying decision? Chances are, not very often. But you know your technology solution well and you know what is important for someone to look for when selecting a technology solution like yours. You are far more experienced than your prospect in the pros and cons, and that experience can be very valuable.

Seek to honestly add value for your prospect. Based on your experience, recommend other decision criteria they should add and tell them why. Make sure that your suggestions are based on what is best for the prospect and not yourself. Always act with integrity and do what is right for your prospects – most are very experienced at detecting self-serving sales behaviours.

Assuming you have now built up your credibility and their trust, chances are high that your prospect will take your recommendations and add them to their decision criteria. In this way, you have succeeded in greatly increasing your probability to win the sale.

Identifying the opportunity

There are several steps you can take to formulate the decision criteria: - Make a list of your technology solution's strengths and what makes it unique: Look at this list and think about what decision criteria would come out of these. Think about all the areas where you are different and where you add value. Think beyond functions and features lists and consider business outcomes and measurable benefits to be gained. Remember that your solution is a lot more than just a technology product or service.

- Make a list of main reasons to choose your offer over your competitors: I also recommend asking your prior customers why they chose you in the past and add their reasons to your list. I have a hunch some of their reasons will surprise you. Review the list and decide what additional criteria you should recommend to the prospect.

- Don't suggest too much: Think about processes, people and outcomes as the value areas and don’t overwhelm the customer with too many decision criteria.

Can you believe that you really do have an opportunity to influence the decision criteria to favour your own solution? It's true and a proven technique to increase the probability of your technology solution being chosen. If you do this regularly, you will dramatically increase your success rate for a sale.

Tessa Stowe helps her technology clients make more sales faster and more profitability.

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