We all know that questioning is essential to the consultative sales process. Without understanding the client’s situation, it’s very difficult to help problem solve or recommend an effective solution. But what if you walk into a meeting and find out the client wants to skip the questioning and get right down the presentation? Here are some ideas to help you stay on track:
Ask for a few minutes of questioning to tailor your presentation–You want to honor the client’s request while gently and respectfully regaining control of the situation. Explain how you will be able to serve them better with a little more information:
“I’d be delighted to explain how we can help, Mr. Jones. But to do that effectively I’d like to ask a few questions about your situation first. With so many solutions available, I’d like to be sure I am honoring your time and directly addressing your needs. Is that okay?”
Present credentials instead of solutions–The client might be wary of answering your questions before feeling confident that you are a potential fit. In this case, you can avoid rattling off your list of solutions by giving a “credentials presentation,” or elevator pitch. An effective credentials presentation has three components:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why it may be of interest to the client
Though not ideal since you are forced to be generic, a credentials presentation is still a great opportunity for you to explain what your company does and start to build trust. Ending on why it may be of interest to the client will hopefully spur further discussion.
Describe typical needs of similar companies– Sometimes the client will insist on hearing solutions first, period. If that’s the case, try giving a general overview of how your company has worked with similar companies in your client’s sector:
“Of course I don’t yet know precisely what you hope to accomplish, but having worked with organizations like yours in the past, here are some common needs that we can help address..”
Canned pitches are rarely effective yet sometimes a client will push you into a presentation before you understand their situation. Using these techniques will help you honor the client’s request without losing the opportunity to be consultative.
How do you handle requests for premature solutions presentations? Share your best practices in the comments below.