According to Mark Sellers, author of the bestselling book The Funnel Principle, no client is serious about fixing a problem until they’ve committed money to fix it.
He recommends thinking of the beginning of sales process as primarily a series of financial decisions rather than solution decisions. The solution stuff comes after the client has already decided to buy … something.
Here’s how Sellers suggests the process ought to work:
- You get the client to recognize there is a problem. This is only logical as a client is not going to buy a solution unless they perceive that they have a problem that needs solving, then
- you help the client define economic consequences of the problem. After all, the client can’t possibly make an intelligent decision on whether the problem is worthy of attention until they have an idea of how much the problem is costing them, and finally
- You ask the client to commit some funding to fix the problem, based upon the financial impact of the problem. In other words, if the customer is losing $10 million a year or could increase yearly sales by $10 million, they should be willing to commit, let’s say, at least $100,000.
At this point, the client may not know the exact amount to commit, but they should be willing to put down, in writing, a number that represents the intent to spend in order to fix the problem. If the client can’t or won’t do this, the deal is probably a dead-end.
In other words, it’s only when you’re certain the client is serious that you should spend your own time (and money) defining a solution, writing a proposal, meeting with multiple stakeholders, and so forth.
According to Sellers, you will be asked to provide some sort of ballpark figure about what it would take to solve the problem you and the client have identified. Your main focus during the initial sales effort must be on the economic impact of the problem rather than the price of a solution.