Are you a B2B Business Owner, Consultant or Software Developer?
Have you noticed that your time is constantly being chewed up by client enquiries that lead nowhere?
Maybe you’re looking to streamline your meeting process and close more calls, but you don’t know how without sounding like one of those pushy salespeople. There’s a process to follow when speaking with potential clients. In this action guide, John Englezos reveals the 9 stages to a successful call.
Want the One Call Close Formula™ as a helpful PDF? Download here.
Elevate Anticipation Before the Meeting
There’s almost nothing worse than setting aside the time to support a potential client (and getting mentally prepared), and then they postpone or don’t show up! Prepare your future clients for the call by giving the call purpose and providing them with valuable content (like videos) in the lead up to the call.
1. Give the Meeting a Name with Purpose
People are much more likely to book a meeting with you when that meeting has a clear purpose, rather than some vague offer to meet up and ‘connect’. They are also far more likely to show up if the meeting has been designed to deliver an outcome.
Action: Give your meeting a specific, attention grabbing name and purpose. We call these AWPs – Appointments with Purpose.
2. Send Reminders that Demonstrate your Expertise
The last thing you want is a full calendar of potential clients who don’t show up. Or maybe they arrive unclear about the purpose of the call or their own agenda. Depending on your industry and how you structure the call, it’s not unusual to have 25% to 50% of scheduled appointments postpone, cancel or just leave you hanging.
Action: Send email reminders 24 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, and even 15 minutes before your scheduled meeting. By sharing valuable advice or tactics, you will be able to ‘elevate anticipation’ before the meeting. They will gain a better understanding about how you can help them and they’ll be more likely to feel like they know you.
3. Set Yourself Reasonable Benchmarks and Metrics
The perfect call ends with a sale, but the majority of prospect conversations don’t end this way. You need to set yourself reasonable conversion benchmarks and metric, so that you know how many meetings you will need to host to secure one new client and also maintain self confidence!
Out of 20 calls, for example, two to four clients might not show up to their meetings. Out of the remaining 16 prospects, four might not be an appropriate fit. This leaves 12 prospects, and it’s important that you make sure this number of actual prospects is as high as possible.
Action: Use a form builder to create a Triage Diagnostic. This is an online form that the prospect is asked to complete before the meeting. This form should contain ‘deal-breaker’ and ‘red flag’ questions. If these questions aren’t answered correctly by a client, don’t waste your time having a meeting. Politely refer that person elsewhere.
Stage Two: Framing Questions Part #1 – Frame yourself as an Authority
Once a meeting has begun, it’s important to position yourself as the ‘boss’ of the call. This doesn’t mean that you need to be bossy. But you do need to let your future clients know that this call is about helping them and that can only be achieved if they follow your structure.
1. Get Permission to Pitch
If you spend, say, 45 minutes helping a potential client and then pitch without requesting permission in advance, they will often feel surprised and unprepared at best, and insulted or ‘tricked’ at worst. The best time to ask for permission to pitch is at the beginning of your call.
EXAMPLE: Ask, ‘Is it a good time to have the call?’ Ask, ‘Can we run through my agenda for the call?’ After introducing your agenda, ask, ‘And at the end of all that, if I feel I can help you, it’s likely that I’ll want to outline some of the ways we might be able to help you. Would
be okay with that?’
Action: Set up your permission to pitch with a sequence of ‘yes’ questions. If the client answers ‘yes’ to multiple questions, they will be more likely to say ‘yes’ to your permission to pitch.
2. ‘Champagne Moment’ Questions
If you want to help a potential client achieve their goals, you’ll need to know what they actually want to achieve… in the next 3 years, in the next 12 months, in the next 3 months. Their answers will help you identify what you can offer them to continue their success.
EXAMPLE: “In 12 months time, how will you know if you have crushed your goals? At what point will your crack open that bottle of champagne? How will you be measuring your success?”
Action: 12 month goals are generally unrealistic. Ask your client about their 3-month goals, as these are generally more pressing and will highlight ways that you can help. Short-term goals are usually about solving problems, rather than achieving outcomes, which helps to introduce the next question.
3. Identify Obstacles and Roadblocks
You now know their destination, where they want to be in 12 months. Next, it’s important to establish what roadblocks or outcomes are likely to impede their progress or even prevent that outcome from happening. This gives you the opportunity to determine whether you can help the client, and begin to identify ways that your product and service can help them achieve their goals.
EXAMPLE: “Okay, if [CHAMPAGNE MOMENT] is your goal, what factors are most likely to get in your way? What might slow you down
or even prevent you from hitting that goal?”
Action: If the client does not have problems you can solve, let them know and walk-away. However, over time, you will discover that most of your clients face the same set of roadblocks and obstacles. If you are able to identify common themes, this will help you add value (in Stage Three) and also isolate FEATURES of your product and service that are most likely to resonate and be attractive to the prospect.
Stage Three: Add Value- Part One
While it’s your goal to qualify potential clients during the call and sign new clients at the conclusion of the call, this won’t happen if you do not deliver on the promise you made when the prospect booked the call. If you have promoted your call as an AWP (i.e. Appointment with Purpose), it’s your responsibility to add value during the call. Give it purpose. Deliver wisdom and outcomes.
Action: What are three of the biggest mental or strategic roadblocks faced by your clients? Pick one and make this the focus of Stage Three. In our business, we ask the potential client to describe their target audience. Then, we teach a process call the Doctor on the Plane test. This test helps them achieve a deeper level of target audience clarity. DEVISE YOUR OWN THREE QUESTONS FOR THIS STAGE.
Stage Four: Match Obstacles to Features
You now know the obstacles that the prospect is facing if they want to achieve their goals. You also know the features and benefits of the product or service you sell. Use this part of the discussion to align their problems with your solutions. Introducing these solutions now will help you start selling early without the need to make your pitch. That is something that happens later.
1. OUTCOMES: Start here. This is what clients really want yes? What features align most congruently with the outcomes they are seeking? For example, we quickly run through our three most popular training programs and then ask the prospect to self-evaluate against each of the three topics that the three training programs address.
2. THINGS: Prospects buy outcomes. But the ‘things’ that help deliver that outcome are also important to the buying decision. They help the rational brain catch up with the gut! At this point, we conduct a mini tech audit. It highlights the missing ‘things’ that we can provide.
3. FEELINGS: The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates had his own formula for presenting persuasively. He talked about ETHOS, LOGOS and PATHOS. Feelings are pathos, the drivers behind most human decision. We know that a big obstacle among our clients is ‘lack of support’ (feelings of isolation). So, we ask questions about access to support, and introduce the support and community element of our product and service mix at the point.
GET THE ONE CALL CLOSE FORMULA™ ROADMAP.
Stage Five: Add Value- Part Two
We sometimes call this the ‘Value Sandwich’. Deliver value. Introduce features. Deliver more value. At this point, it’s useful to share a tactic. Outline a powerful and relatively detailed strategy or insight. Go deeper, but leave them wanting more! This creates excitement and anticipation for whatever you have planned for the prospect next.
ACTION: At this point in a meeting, we outline our PRODUCT ECOSYSTEM FORMULA™. It’s something we draw and we ask the prospect to draw their own version. It’s a lesson but it also leaves them with a valuable take-away to look at and reflect upon is a decision is not made on that day. What could you draw?
Stage Six: Framing Questions Part #2 – Frame you or your product as the Solution
By this point, you have delivered value to the client. Now it’s time to shift the conversation toward working together. Frame your service as the logical choice by asking questions.
1. Discuss the COI (i.e. Cost-of-Inaction)
What will be the cost to the prospect if they do not change their existing ways of doing business? If they do not engage you or buy your product, how much time, money, or sleep are they likely to lose? The COI adds urgency to the conversation.
EXAMPLE: “I want you to imagine that it’s 12 months from now and nothing has changed. You’re doing the same turnover, working the same hours, doing the same stuff. How do you feel? I want you to give me a number out of 10. One is, ‘I’m totally cool with the lack of progress’ and 10 is ‘I’m really frustrated with myself and lack of progress’. Give me a score out of 10.”
Action: Ask about emotional or mental consequences of inaction, not just the financial pain. Pain avoidance will drive action faster than any financial or time gain. For example, if the prospect is a middle manager, we might ask, “If you only tick all the boxes and do what you need to do as a [PROFESSION], if all you do is keep the seat warm, will you feel fulfilled in your role?”
2. Identify the ROI (i.e. Return-on-Investment)
Remember the ‘Champagne Moments’ discussed earlier? Bring those outcomes back into the conversation and, this time, begin to associate
those outcomes with the ‘price’ of your product or service. There are many ways to bring those two concepts together in the mind of your prospect.
EXAMPLE: “If a trusted advisor suggested that you spend [DOLLAR FIGURE = YOUR PRICE] on [OUTCOME], would you mentally define that expenditure as a COST or an INVESTMENT? It sounds like petty semantics (COST or INVESTMENT), but I need to know whether there’s likely to be a fit and it helps if I know the way that you think.”
ACTION: Sometimes you might need to redefine their desired outcome as a numerical, more measurable concept. Transform their desire into a currency. For example, if ‘more time’ is the desired outcome, you might need to ask, ‘How much is an hour worth to you?’ If the desired outcome is to be free from some sort of mental anguish, ‘How much would it be worth to you to be free of that problem and be able to sleep at night once again?’ Then, ask the COST v INVESTMENT question.
3. Permission to Pitch (Again)
Most of the questions above will seed you as the solution to their problem. That’s why, at this point in the conversation, if there is a ‘fit’, the prospect will now begin to drive the conversation forward on your behalf. They will have questions about price, speed of delivery and how to
get started. This is your cue to re-set the conversation and properly introduce your product or service.
EXAMPLE: “So, based on everything that we have spoken about, I believe that we can help you. I have three options that I think would work well for you. Shall we run through those together?”
ACTION: It pays to have options. If you arrive with only one option, you are actually providing the prospect with two. You create a binary decision. Yes or No. If you arrive with three options, you introduce a choice and that becomes the focus of the decision. How you structure your offer is one of the TOP THREE factors that create or reduce friction.
Stage Seven: Anchor the Options
What’s Anchor pricing? It’s where you create a cognitive bias by simply introducing a high number or price to the discussion before introducing the price of the product or package you would most like the prospect to purchase. This sales practice creates a ‘comparison’ for the prospect to work with, often where there was no comparable alternative before. Your offer is more likely to seem attractive and reasonable when ‘anchored’ against a higher number. Indeed, the questions in Stage 6 already leverage this principle.
1. THE PREMIUM: Introduce a premium option first. This might be 4 to 10 times the price of the option you would most prefer that the prospect choose. You might also discover that 5% of people are naturally drawn to the premium option, even after the alternatives are introduced.
2. THE PATSY: This is an option that is almost identical to the option you would like the prospect to choose, but it’s not quite as good. It’s slightly cheaper than the preferred but offers far less value. When presenting the options, introduce the Patsy second. It should be attractive in its own right.
3. THE PREFERRED: After you have set an ‘Anchor’ by providing the Premium option and, then, introduced a compelling alternative with the Patsy, introduce your Preferred option. When done in this order, this process is designed to position your Preferred option as the most attractive.
ACTION: We draw the three options on a piece of paper with the PREMIUM on right (first), the PATSY on left (second). Leave space for the PREFERRED in the middle. Underline this option after you have explained why this is the option that you ‘recommend’. You are the expert, after all.
Stage Eight: Revisit Features to Accelerate Decisions
For most people, the sales call never ends in a sale. The prospect requests further information, and a decision is finally made days, weeks or months later or that’s where the conversation ends (when you fail to follow up). If you are selling a product or service that is less than $10,000, make it your priority to take payment in full or a deposit on that first call.
1. Explain the Onboarding Process
Before soliciting a decision, it helps to quickly introduce the onboarding process. An unspoken objection or reservation is often based on the fear that you will take the money and disappear. So, outline the steps and stages and events that will happen after they commit.
2. Introduce ROI Bonuses
You will have already introduced ROI messaging when you compared the investment to the outcome. But Bonus Packs can also be used to
further demonstrate ROI. For example, if the price of your product or service is $1,000, what could you add to the offer that’s normally available for $3,000? This is a form of ROI. ‘Spend $1,000 and immediately get a $3,000 bonus.’ In other words, you are offering an immediate Return-On-Investment. De-risk the bonus as appropriate.
3. Revisit Support Benefits by Introducing Add-Ons
Most sellers (like you) don’t attach a monetary value to support. It’s just something you ‘do’. However, if you are able to put a value on different kinds of support and bundle these support options into a package, these can be added to the offer as a Premium Add-On, often tied to a deadline. This process also helps manage the expectations of particularly needy clients. If a client is taking up a lot of your time, unnecessarily, point them in the direction of your ‘Support Credits Pack’, where they can ‘buy’ additional time with you.
ACTION: Each of these ‘Features’ tackle unspoken reservations and objections before they need to be asked. The second two can also be used to accelerate the decision. Make them conditional on a sale or the payment of a deposit while on the call.
Stage Nine: The Close
You’ve reached the very ‘pointy end’ of the deal. This final phase often involves an open dialogue where the prospect has additional question or voices any final obstacles or reservations before going ahead. The purpose of this stage is to address any final concerns and take payment.
1. REALITY BOX: This question provides an opportunity to summarize the conversation, the goals and roadblocks, in particular. It is also a segue to ask THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION (i.e. Payment Processing Preference).
Here is the REALITY BOX QUESTION: ‘So far, we have identified these are your goals, these as your roadblocks. I’d love to work with you and I have provided three options and one recommendation to do that. The option that I suggested was [NAME] which is available for an investment of [PRICE].
Here is my question, ‘Is that price within your reality?’” This will solicit a very honest and direct answer.
2. THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: If the response to the REALITY BOX QUESTION is YES, you reply: “Great! That makes me very happy. That means that I only have one more question for you. It’s the most important question that I’m going to ask today. Are you ready? Visa or Mastercard?” This will often solicit a giggle and a direct answer. (‘VISA’.)
3. OBJECTIONS: If the REALITY BOX QUESTION triggers a ‘No’, you may need to ask additional questions and provide additional answers. You may wish to introduce payment plan options or smaller/lesser and, therefore, cheaper packages. Do NOT offer discounts. If THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION triggers a ‘None, I can’t pay today’ or ‘I don’t think I’m ready’ or ‘I need to speak to my business partner’, be prepared for these are other common objections.
ACTION: Not all objections are reasonable. Many are based on illogical fears. When presented with an objection, it’s your job to very politely REDUCE THE RIDICULOUS and help them overcome their fears.