Stefan Edberg at net.jpg

Of the many problems that cause sales to collapse, one of the most controllable is the pace at which we try to advance. Watch professional tennis players. Notice how they approach the net. They take very small steps. This lets them advance quickly, yet remain balanced, under control, and able to reverse in response to lobs, or change direction to respond to sharply-angled returns. They're never over-committed to any direction, recognizing that the other player's actions may force them to change directions quickly and decisively. 

By contrast, salespersons too often try to take big steps, trying to go directly from "Hello" to "Buy From Me." This causes Buyers to feel rushed or pressured. They sense that where you're going is good for you, but don't yet know whether or not it's good for them, so they have to slow everything down while they figure that out. In this fashion, salespeople self-manufacture the slowdown that frustrates them.

Earn the right to advance. Don't arbitrarily decide how fast you can advance. Instead, confirm with the Buyer that advancing makes sense and is welcomed. Then, ask what they see as a sensible next step.  

Once they’ve chosen one, it’s natural to complete the logic by asking “how” and “when.” We care only that there will be a next step that's welcomed by the buyer. We don't care how or when. 

It's very important that the buyer define the next step. However, we have to remember that buyers don't always know how to buy, particularly if they're new to buying legal service. Even if they've hired lawyers before, they may still be new to buying the particular legal service needed to solve their current problem.  

In such cases, after giving the buyer the opportunity to suggest a next step, if they're at a loss to suggest one, or the step they suggests is counterproductive, you'll have to offer one. Make sure to phrase it as a question, e.g., "Would it makes sense to...?" followed by the reasoning, "It seems that would allow us to achieve [worthwhile outcome]..."  

This approach keeps you from prematurely putting the wrong stake in the ground. Keep the next step as the buyer's decision, not yours. Once again, using the "It seems..." framework prevents you from risking declarations that turn out not to be acceptable to the buyer. This framework allows buyers to express disagreement or confusion without creating a barrier between you.

Mike O'Horo

Need help with the “how” part of this?  

Within RainmakerVT, you'll find a detailed, step-by-step process, including two simulations that let you practice what you learn: Earning the Right to Advance: Conducting the "Next Steps" Call or Meeting

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