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The one question that keeps the sales process from stalling

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When you’re talking to a potential new client, one of the most frustrating things is when the process slows down. Potential clients go silent, there are unexpected delays, or the sales process drags on and on.

I know how frustrating it is, because it used to happen a lot when I first started selling to new clients.

And even today I hear it from nearly every entrepreneur I talk to:

  • “I sent her a proposal but never heard back.”
  • “I thought things were going well, but I haven’t heard from them.”
  • “They said they’d be in touch, but that was months ago.”

It all boils down to one overarching question: how do you keep the sales process moving? And not just moving - moving towards a successful close?

It was in one of those moments, where I was getting annoyed that a prospect had gone silent, when I realized something:

It’s not up to my clients to say yes to me. It’s up to me to show them how to say yes.

It’s up to me to Lead the Client.

 

Leading The Client

Leading the Client is when you make it as easy as possible for the client to take the next step, whatever that step is.

Instead of making the client figure out what comes next, you actually lead them to it, and through it. For example, making it as easy as checking a box.

For example:

  • Recommending a call and offering a few time options
  • Asking for an introduction, and writing an email they can cut/paste and send
  • Adding a signature line in the proposal, to make it easy for people to say yes and reduce the back-and-forth

So instead of this: “Let me know what you think!”

Try this: “After you’ve had a chance to review, let’s set up a call to go over any questions you might have. Shall we aim for next Friday morning?”

 

Why It Works

Clients are juggling tons of competing priorities. Anything above and beyond what they have to do, feels like work. And if it feels like work, they won’t do it.

Lead the Client by making it so incredibly easy for them to take the next step, that they don’t even have to think about it. You’ll help keep things moving at each stage of the sales process.

 

A Tale of Two Responses

Since I talk about Leading the Client all the time, I’m keenly aware of when people are doing it… and when they’re not. That’s why I was so interested in the responses I personally got a few weeks ago.

From my Facebook network, I got connected to two vendors to manage a technical project for my client, which was out of my sweet spot. After the initial Facebook connection I sent the same email to two providers.

The first responded with a detailed description of her services, and ended with,

    “I hope this answers your question. If not, please let me know. I would be more than happy to hop on a call.”

I wrote back asking for pricing info. He wrote back with:

    “For this project, the cost is between $X and $Y. Our work is tailored to the customer’s needs. Let me know if you have any other questions.”

How do I move forward? How do I purchase? You’re not making it very easy for me.

The second vendor responded with this note:

    Hi Leah,

    I wanted to reach out with a quick reply. I am booked heavily today, but can squeeze in a chat tomorrow afternoon, early Thursday morning or after 2 p.m. CST on Thursday as well.

    Looking forward to connecting to hear about your vision, challenges and goals. From what ---- has shared, what we do is exactly what you're looking for.

Do you see what the vendor did there? He led me to the next step: a call, and offered a few times.

Which one do you think I went with? :)

 

Make it Work for You

How do you Lead the Client? With one question.

But it’s not a question to ask the client. It’s a question to ask yourself.

In every email, phone call, or deliverable, ask:Am I leading the client right now? Or am I putting the burden on him/her?

If you find that you aren't leading the client, think through the next steps and lead the client through them.

Leading the Client not only makes it easier for them to say yes, it positions you as the expert you are. It will also distinguish you from your competitors, who probably aren’t leading the prospect because they’re not as smart as you are.

How can you Lead the Client in your next interaction?

P.S. That second provider? It's Digital Ninja - digitalninja.com. My client and I love working with them - highly recommend!

 

If you’d like to learn how to Lead the Client, master the sales process, and improve your close rate for new clients, check out SIGNED, my 8-week master class to teach you how to sell to -- and SIGN -- new clients. Discounted pricing closes soon - learn more and register today!

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