Many people mistakenly think that closing sales should be at the end of the sales process. That’s when it actually happens right? Unfortunately no.

First meetings can go deceptively well.

Both parties can conclude the meeting with the action to provide and review a proposal. But unless you probe deeper into the client’s “decision process”, you will be making too many assumptions on the reality of making a sale.

“What is your decision process?” is the key to unlocking your understanding and helping to provide a smooth process to closing sales.

Case Study One

It is the last week of the quarter. Your sales are behind expectations. You need to close some deals by the end of the week. You had a very good meeting with a new client, Jane Smith. At the conclusion of the meeting she asked you to send through the proposal. You felt confident that this deal would be a “slam dunk” and don’t ask any further questions. The proposal was sent to Jane over three weeks ago.

You are now about to call Jane. Your heart starts to race. You realise you have no idea where they are at. The call is difficult. You awkwardly ask if they had reviewed the proposal. Jane gives you the, “Don’t call us, we will call you” response. At the end of the call you realise all you know is that you have no idea of what the client is thinking.

Case Study Two

You meet the same organisation. As before you had a very good first meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting, Jane Smith asks for you to send through a proposal. You agree to, but first you say you need to ask the following questions:

  1. What is your decision process for this kind of opportunity?
  2. What Stakeholders would need to be part of the decision?
  3. Who would sign off on the budget?
  4. If you decided to proceed when would you need this solution in place?

Jane answers some of the questions. Her enthusiasm tapers a little because she realises that she will need sign-off from other stakeholders in the company. However she is confident that she can help better explain the solution to her colleagues. She asks if you can help sell the solution to one stakeholder that she anticipates will be a challenge. You both agree on a strategy to move forward.

Fast forward to the end of the quarter. You give Jane a call. You ask her to see if the remaining stakeholder was happy with the presentation you gave last week. Jane indicates that all stakeholders are supportive of your proposal and have given her authority to proceed. You confirm the authorisation process and you receive your order the following day.

“What is your decision process?” is the most important question you will ever ask a client.

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