I get asked this question on a regular basis: “How do I create a sense of urgency with my prospect/client?” I wish I had a specific technique that addressed this, but I don’t. However, I do think the answer stems from one specific thing: The top priorities of the business. The priorities of the different departments we sell to, and the people who manage them, tend to change on a regular basis. What doesn’t tend to change are the top priorities of the business for the coming year.
Focus on the Prospect’s Priorities for the Year
The CEO sets out a plan for the year which typically focuses on three to four specific priorities (revenue growth, operational efficiencies, R&D, etc.). All other initiatives and departmental priorities then fall in line. If we can’t tie our solution to one of these top priorities, there is little or no chance of creating a sense of urgency. The connection between our solution and their top priorities might not be (and usually isn’t) that obvious, but it’s our job to make it that way. This is why understanding those priorities — as early as possible in the sales process — is absolutely essential. Once we understand them, we can then develop and ask questions to uncover the connection and present the solution to the client.
Sharpen Your Questioning Skills
Questioning skills are something we all need to work on. If we ask the right questions, we tend to uncover information that we can use to tie to the priorities, and create a sense of urgency, when it might not have been there before. That said, if the connection to their top priorities truly isn’t there, then no amount of questioning is going to help you create a sense of urgency.
What’s an additional benefit to focusing on the client’s top business priorities as early as possible? It opens up the door to request access to power, if the person you’re working with doesn’t have the insight you need.
Steps to Put Yourself in a Position to Create Urgency
- Do your homework prior to the meeting to try and find out the publicly stated top business priorities
- Develop questions specific to finding out what those priorities are or how your solution can align with them
- Make sure you have a reason for your questions
- Ask your questions and dig for insight
- If the insight isn’t good enough, ask to be introduced to someone who can give you the insight you need
- Summarize their priorities and how your solution aligns. Get confirmation in writing (summary email, mutual action plan, etc.)
- Confirm and highlight their priorities and your solutions alignment throughout your communications (update calls, proposals, etc.)
Good luck and happy selling.
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This post originally appeared on John Barrows’ Blog.