Shifting the Vetting – To Your Prospect…

David Baker consults with ad agencies and graphic designers – and his message is easily relatable to architectural and those in the A/E/C world.

 

http://www.recourses.com/shifting-the-vetting-to-your-prospect

Most of you would like a prospect–in the early stages–to assume that working with you will be a fit. Then you want the opportunity to move them along during the sales process until the check clears. You don’t want them making any early decisions on their own, deciding that it’s not a good fit, possibly, and looking for a different firm to work with.

We know this is true by looking at your website, which is welcoming, friendly, and sometimes full of those faux tests that help a prospect determine the fit. “Here, take this four question test and see if we should work together: First, do you want a true partnership. Second, do you want good value for your money. Third, do you want quick results. Fourth, do you want lasting results.” And then, after a drum roll, they learn that it’s a good fit! Surprise, surprise.

 

Why You Should Help Prospects Vet Themselves

Your website should help a prospect make an honest decision about whether it’s a good fit to work with you, and they should do this on their own, before they ever talk to you, for these two reasons:

  1. They will be more honest than you will. You cannot be trusted to not compromise when you smell opportunity. This is why you might encourage your teenager to describe an ideal mate before they meet that person; otherwise the list looks suspiciously like the person they just met.
  2. It will save you time. One of the biggest dangers in business development is wasting time chasing prospective clients who are just kicking the tires, and in the new business process there’s one thing that you are always seeking at all costs, and that’s the truth. In this context, data is always your friend. So if the new relationship is not meant to be, the sooner you find that out the better.

 

How Your Prospects Can Vet Themselves

If you agree with these two reasons and want to help your prospects determine a fit on their own, it’s going to take some courage on your part. If the process is going to be meaningful, some prospects are never going to contact you and you’ll have to be okay with that. This aligns with the notion that sales isn’t about convincing or manipulating a prospect, and it assumes that you are offering something valuable and worthy and for which there are few viable substitutes.

There are many things you can talk about to help prospects do this, but some are difficult to express well. In the end, you probably should stick with just a few, and here are the most useful ones.

  • Explain what size the first project would be, ideally, and how that number fits into the larger relationship you want with the client. Your reasoning is because relationships of this scale allow you to be effective and profitable.
  • Describe the typical mix between strategy and implementation in your work. Must you do strategy at the outset or would you go straight to implementation to get a foot in the door and then swim upstream later.
  • What payment terms work well for you. If you require a significant portion of the fee at the outset, explain why you’ve come to that policy.
  • You’d word these in your own, friendly way and then relax instead of thinking that selling is a fragile process. You’re in the expertise business and not the service business.