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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  November 12, 2014

3 Things to Give Away In Every Sales Conversation

Originally published by RainToday.com

Between social media and content marketing, help and advice are free and flowing.  So, how do you demonstrate your value in sales conversations without giving away what others charge for?  Here are three areas I focus on that help potential clients, demonstrate my value, and pave the way for getting clients.

1. Talk about the Journey

Many prospects know they need help. They just don’t know what happened and why. When I explain their journey to them, the prospect not only understands his situation better, but also understands how I customize my expertise to his situation. When prospects understand their situation better, they can move forward with more confidence.

What to give away: trends and the danger. First,  I explain what’s happening in their environment and the impact this has on them. This helps the client realize they are not alone. Everyone struggles with the same market dynamics. Second, I take a short trip to the dark side. I explain the top two (or three) mistakes I see other folks make in their situation. This allows the prospect to diagnose their problem(s) for themselves.

What to get paid for: help along the way. I do not suggest any solutions to solve their current situation. Example: an author calls me about sagging book sales. I check out his book and see immediate red flags. I explain the two biggest market trends that adversely impacted his sales. This gives context around his problem and lets him know he’s not alone. But I don’t suggest ways for him to boost his sales.

2. Talk about the Crossroads

If the client is still engaged (and most are at this point), I talk about the here and now. The focus is on what needs to be done and why. This gives the prospect a framework for the solution so they can compare competitors accurately.

What to give away: heads up and benchmarks. Both of these help frame what the solution must look like. This helps the prospect understand what he really needs. Example: an international client called me to help her launch her B2B business in the U.S.  I did some quick research, and I learned more about her biggest competitors. I gave her a heads up, saying something like, “Your launch has to deal with this perception. If you don’t position away from these competitors, all implementation efforts will fall flat.” This warning, along with a specific focus, gives more value and plays a role in conversations she’ll have with my competitors.

What to get paid for: exploring specific options. In my earlier days, I used to take the next step and give a couple of options. The prospect thanked me but never hired me because they thought they could choose from and implement those options alone. What I learned in the follow-up was I provided enough information to get bogged down later in the launch. By the time the prospect realized their mistake, they spent all of their resources on bad choices and were unable to get the outside help they needed from me. No one wins in that situation.

3. Talk about the Decisions

Finally, I answer the biggest question in the prospect’s mind: Is this solution worth the effort? What happens if they do nothing? Only buyers can decide that, but you can frame the questions to consider what their life might be like. This part of the conversation creates urgency to act sooner rather than later. It also handles any objections.

What to give away: the key questions that will help the buyer get “unstuck” and make an informed decision. Example: a consultant was struggling for five years. He was still unsure about getting help. I said to him, “Sounds like you’ve had a tough five-year stretch. I hope my perspective has helped you understand how that happened and that you’re not alone. You know what the form in the road looks like. My last question: If you could’ve done XXX (the goal) yourself, wouldn’t you have done it by now? Have you tried everything you know to do? And if so, how long do you keep going like this before you realize you need outside help?”

What to get paid for: in-depth answers to your questions. It’s very tempting to help the buyer “process” with more information or coaching. Don’t.  Here’s why: without time to digest the conversation, the buyer might feel pressured. And that feeling can lead the prospect to question your motivation and wonder if you have their best interests at heart. Instead, ask about the next step. If a buyer is ready to move forward and begin working with you, that’s great. If not, ask for a deadline for a decision. After the help you’ve given, it’s a fair request.

Help without the Hurt

It’s a delicate balance between helping future clients and giving away the farm. By focusing on the journey, the crossroads and the decisions, you can help buyers make the right move. You create value without giving the solutions. You can be generous without hurting yourself.

Filed Under: Sales


About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.