Getting a new customer is a journey of your marketing and sales teams working together. The first two steps have passed. The prospect is aware of their problem and is aware that you can solve it. They are, however, aware that your competitors can solve it too. They went through their contemplation stage and thought about possible solutions to their problem, and your marketing team has done their job.
Your marketing team has convinced the prospect you are trying to woo that you understand their problem better than your competitors and have a plan to solve it. You are almost at the end of step two as you have made your prospect emotionally aroused and convinced them that you have a vision of how you can help them and that you care about solving their problem.
Your prospect is almost ready for the third step, which is preparation. Your prospect believes that you have the vision to solve their problem, but now they need to sell it to their boss or board of directors. To do this, they are going to need hard facts. They are going to need numbers, ROI, and how-tos. They need proof they can take back and show their management team that you are the right company for the job. This guide will discuss how to prove the benefits you claim and add a logical decision to their emotional one as they reevaluate their choice rationally.
How the internet can help
Your new client is almost ready for your sales team to take over and close the sale, but first, your client needs data that they can take back to their team to help convince them that you're the right person for the job. They may not want to talk to anyone at this time as they're just gathering data, and that's when the internet comes in handy.
Your website should be set up so that your client can find data easily. For example, you should have statistics about jobs you've completed in the past and testimonials of clients who were happy with your work. All of this will give you potential client information they can take back to their company and allow them to reevaluate you positively rationally.
Why restraint is necessary
At this stage, your sales team is going to want in. The client is interested in your services, and they have been taught to close the deal. However, this stage requires restraint. Your client may be nearly ready and interested, but they still require hard data. If you send your sales team in, they are going to try and close on the sale. It's what they've been taught to do.
But you need to show restraint. First, let your client look at the data you have without a contract in their face. Then, allow the client to go back to their office and show the numbers to their team without drowning them in requests and promises. Although it may be difficult, this is the time for patience.
How do you move your client along while still showing restraint?
It is hard to get used to the fact that your client has the power. For most of the history of sales, it was the sales team that held the numbers and the power in the relationship. In our present time, however, this is no longer true. The internet has changed that for better or worse, and your client can gather data without you.
That's why although your sales team is in the loop at this stage, most of the money and attention is still with the marketing team. Your client will signal to you when they are ready to begin the sales process. They will signal their vulnerability by giving you information about themselves. Whether it's their name or who to contact in their department, they need to be the ones to move the relationship along.
This is still not the time for your sales team to go full-force. You want to take this slow and use restraint. But if your marketing team is doing their job, your client will let you know when they are ready to move from contemplation to planning. That will happen when they are ready to make a decision sometime in the next six months.
Why the six-month window is the crucial time.
Humans are not great at forecasting too far into the future. If someone says they'll get back to you in a year, they may or may not remember when that time comes along. They certainly weren't thinking about all the activities that happen in a year between making their promise and when they have to fulfill it. When your client says they're interested in deciding in the next six months, you will begin to see a different dynamic.
Suddenly, new people will begin to appear at meetings. These people are decision-makers. As it gets closer to leaving contemplation and begin planning, the decision-makers will begin to get involved. For example, your client has returned with the data on your business, and management has crunched the numbers and started to decide. Although they're not all the way there, they are beginning to be ready to move into the planning stage.
Rational reevaluation is all about gathering data to take back to the decision-makers to have their final say. Your marketing team has done its job so far. Your client is emotionally engaged, and when they go back to their boss, they will be more than likely arguing in favor of moving in your direction. The power, however, is still on their side. The tipping point will be how that data looks to the decision-makers.
If the data looks good, the decision-makers will begin to start moving. You'll start to hear them making plans in the next few months, not the next few years. The COO or the CFO will begin to appear at your meetings. Once the rational reevaluation has taken place, if it has been done correctly, the right people will be in the room for you to start planning your strategy together.
What next? How do I set up my prospect for success?
We're glad you asked! Check out our next blog posts to learn about the following process in the Cognitive Marketing framework: private, then public commitment