(By Michael Doyle) Most salespeople think that you contract with the prospect at the close of the sales cycle. You know; do the paperwork. Most sales are lost by sellers who don’t contract upfront.
Contracting upfront is how you make sure your sales process is fully understood by your prospect and the buy side team. It is a critical skill to ensure that you are not moving too quickly on the sale, but also that you are not moving too slowly. You can’t sell anything to anyone, they must discover they want to buy it.
You need to contract from the first interaction with a prospect. As you know, most of us hate to be sold, so it’s important you make it clear to the prospect that you aren’t there to push them into a sale, but to fully understand their challenges, and to develop WITH THEM solutions that work.
Contracting starts with the first meeting. If you set it up or a Sales Development Rep set up the meeting for you, a shared understanding of what will go on at the meeting needs to be set. At the outset, a great seller will recap these shared expectations, contract for time, and learn who else should be in the conversation. It might this sound like this:
“Thank you for your time, Mr. Johnson. I was told by my co-worker Jason who set up this meeting that you were interested in learning about how we had helped other companies in your industry solve problem X. Is that true? (contracting).”
Need More Contracts? Do More Contracting – Upfront
“I want to make sure we are not hurried, Jason told me you had about 45 minutes, I’m not sure we will take that much time, does that still work for you? (contracting).
“Before I share the case studies, I want to make sure I use your time wisely. Can I ask you a few questions upfront to ensure the case studies I give you are applicable? (contract).”
“Is there anyone else I should talk to or who we could ask to join us who might help shed light on this challenge? (contract)”
Throughout the sales process, you should contract for each meeting agenda, the appropriate follow up and next steps. Never leave a virtual or in-person meeting without recapping and understanding next steps.
In my recent role as President of Sales Operations, I was on the receiving end of dozens of inbound sales efforts (people wanting to sell me). The ones that failed usually lacked a clear shared understanding of my business problem, my budgetary constraints, my timeline, and/or our decision-making process.
Often, they were in a hurry to get a sale, and failed to understand the real opportunity I might have presented. A lot of times, it was their boss, anxious to get a close, who pushed on to the presentation stage without a real understanding of my situation.
Effective contracting can sort your opportunities into those that need to move more quickly, and those that need a deeper dive. Like the old saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you will never know when you have arrived.”
Contract throughout the process and close more business.
For nearly 40 years, Michael Doyle, The Sales MD, has been hiring, training and developing sellers and sales managers around the United States. The success of your business is tied to the success of your sales team. Contact The Sales MD at: [email protected] .