I have been busy recently and haven’t been writing much. As mentioned, this blog is more of a hobby for me than anything else. But I enjoy writing a post now and then. So this post focuses on one specific topic I’ve been thinking about since my last post (in other words, months!): how to find out if there is or isn’t a time frame within the prospect organisation that could drive the closure of a deal. In other words, what are the reasons to seek for the dragon in the sales process.
Yes. A dragon in the sales process. Let me elaborate. No need to stress that B2B selling means understanding the prospect problems and asking question #cliché. To do this, it is always best to prepare prospect meeting in advance and to do so, I follow a simple mnemotechnic trick. More time fixed cost. I have highlighted the specific of this approach on this post here. It helps me cover most of the basics and more. And I can follow up with budget questions. There is actually one question that I do find really useful to bridge the budget topic. If there is anything that the is beyond the prospect control (or is affecting her organisation as a whole) and drives some urgency or driving the process all the way to completion. That’s what I call “a dragon” (see below why the cheesy name). It is the exogenous reasons (from the prospect point of view) of why a company needs to implement a solution. In other words, the possible sense of urgency that a prospect have, the pressure he or she has to find a solution to a said problem
And how does finding a dragon in the sales process help?
There are various reasons why identifying a dragon does help (again, apologies for the cheesyness of the name). Without respective order, here are what I have found.
- Avoid getting stuck in a maybe: A no is not as good as a yes but it is 100 times better than a maybe. So there is a lot of value to clarify with a prospect if there is no real opportunity to collaborate. It is possible to ask “what is the impact of doing anything”. And then “By when would you want to have this in place”. Asking these, I obtain a date but it could be a date that is not related to other dynamics in the company. It could be a simple personal aspiration on the prospect side. Asking questions such as “Interesting context. And so that I understand, why this specific timeframe for an implementation? What is happening that you pick this date rather than, say, a couple of months later”, helps understand the wider context. If there is no driver the opportunity is, arguably, less qualified than if there wasn’t one. The sense of urgency from the prospect to move towards satisfactory closure is lesser than if he or she has lived with this problem for few weeks (humans are creature of habits!).
- It helps unearthing if a budget allocated: If a date has been mentioned AND a dragon identified, ie. “we need to have this in place by XXX because it has an impact on project ZZZ / event taking place by YYYY” I find it reasonable to move on and ask the follow-up question of budget. Fronted with a softener and a bit of mirroring “That makes sense. So, if the project ZZZ leads to having this in place by XXX, would it be fair to assume there has been a budget already agreed to address this issue?”
- Helps increasing empathy: Having a good understanding of the dragon, I find it really helps to put myself in the prospect’s shoes and empathise with the situation that he or she faces. It helps me front the conversation with dynamics that he or she lives. Rather than what I might be focused on should I want to drive the sale forward.
If there are other benefits to this hunt for a dragon, do let me know, always keen to learn.
More about dragons?
I hopes the above helps? As mentioned, the name is admittedly a tad cheesy. Skip Miller is the one that used the term dragon in the sales process. And I find it a good way to bear in mind to ask for a very useful piece of information. I will write a post about some books I have been reading, including Skip’s book. But I also know that I am far from a regular writer so the link to Skip Miller book is here should you want to find more information.