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Dialog 5 : "I Have to Talk It Over With ..."

Scenario

You sell training seminars and have made your presentation to the human resources director at R-Wonderful Company. He tells you, "I have to talk it over with management." You realize this statement has many possible meanings, including "It's hard for me to weigh pros and cons in order to arrive at a decision, so I'll get some other opinions," or "It sounds good to me but I don't want to be responsible for making a mistake, so I'm going to get someone else in on this." Or "I'm truly not the sole decision-maker; I'm actually required to get the approval of so-and-so." Or "I'm trying to brush you off."

Strategies

Perhaps in qualifying this prospect you wrongly concluded he was the sole decision-maker. Sometimes it's impossible to ascertain all such details in advance of a meeting. So, you'll now seek explicit information about exactly who holds the decision-making power. You'll also try to isolate any other objections this statement may be conveying through an Isolation strategy, in which you ask, "What, exactly, do you need to discuss?" and "What other concerns do you have?" Based on the responses you receive to those questions, you'll address any remaining objections by using strategies in which you get conditional agreement to the sale, including the If ... Then strategy and the Just-You strategy. You'll then try to get a meeting with all the decision-makers through an "It's My Job" strategy.

Be Careful

If your prospect absolutely refuses to allow you to meet with the decision-makers, make sure the materials you leave behind for them are clear, compelling, creative, and clean! They'll have to speak for you in your absence. Always carry extras since you never know how many different decision-makers you may have to provide for.

What the Experts Say

"Committees of twenty deliberate plenty. Committees of ten act now and then. But most jobs are done by committees of one."
—C. Northcote Parkinson

Figure 3.5 I Have to Talked it Over With...

Further Considerations

Rehearse a complete list of relevant "If ... then" statements that could resolve any objections to your particular product or service. For example, "So, you're saying that if I could get billing postponed for this computer system until after the first of the year, then you'd be willing to place your order today?" Or "If you were certain that this was the best price you could get anywhere for these microprocessors, then you'd be ready to order?" Or "If you were convinced this training actually made a difference in profits, then you'd be willing to go for it?"

Consider trying to get an initial contract signed by your prospect along with your promise to make it null and void if the necessary approvals don't come through. Any steps you can take to make the sale more real or tangible will help advance the transaction.

Every time you get additional information on the structure, dynamics, and relationships in a particular company, enter that information for future reference on the organizational chart you're keeping for that company.

Ask Yourself

  • In order to get all the decision-makers in the room at the same time, do I do everything possible to accurately qualify a prospect in advance?
  • Do I work hard at getting included in any subsequent meetings with other decision-makers, knowing that I will make my case better than anyone else could?
  • If I'm explicitly excluded from such meetings, do I consider offering alternatives, such as a virtual sales presentation on the Internet?

See Chapter 10, "Employing Atypical Methods," for more information on virtual meetings.

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