“Apply a Rainmaking Strategy and Skills to Develop New Business” Presented by Dr. John Brennan

Zintro Webinar

Presented by Dr. John Brennan, President at Interpersonal Development, LLC & Senior Consultant at Shipley Associates.

Presenter’s Note:
“Many experts are frustrated with their inability to engage prospective clients in a conversation about their project needs. The truth is they don’t know how. They tend to overwhelm the client with their enthusiasm and information about their product or services. Clients balk at this “hard sell” and back off. This webinar offers an alternative; a consultative that gets clients talking about their needs and expectations early, leading to targeted advice and proposals that close more sales.”

About Dr. John Brennan:
Dr. Brennan has focused his career on developing sales organizations designing and delivering sales training and coaching programs in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. His specific expertise includes sales management, sales skills enhancement, business development, sales coaching, and instructional design.

To help a European auto manufacturer launch its most successful new product in history, Dr. Brennan designed and delivered a global sales training program. He recruited, trained and managed sales trainers to deliver the courses. Other sales training clients have included Gannett Company, Microsoft, Pharmacia, Prudential, and Volkswagen. Dr. Brennan has developed the interpersonal skills of hundreds of sales reps and managers in intense, small group, interactive, classroom-style courses. As a trainer/facilitator, he has achieved outstanding participant satisfaction ratings.

He is the author of the book Consultative Selling Skills and publisher of the Sales Coaching Matters newsletter and numerous articles on sales and sales training. Dr. Brennan is a member of the Association for Training and Development.

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Enrique: Hello and welcome. My name is Enrique Levin, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Zintro. Zintro is a global online marketplace that helps connect companies with highly specialized consultants and other expertise providers for projects that range from one-hour phone consults to multi-month on-site engagements and even full-time jobs. I would like to thank the over 400 people who signed up for today’s webinar “Apply a Rainmaking Strategy and Skills to Develop New Business,” presented by Dr. John Brennan. It is with great pleasure I introduce Zintro expert Dr. John Brennan, President at Interpersonal Development, LLC and Senior Consultant at Shipley Associates.

Dr. Brennan has focused his career on developing sales organizations, designing and delivering sales training and coaching programs in North America, Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. His particular sales expertise includes sales management, sales skill enhancement, business development, sales coaching and instructional design.

To help a European auto manufacturer launch its most successful new product in history. Dr. Brennan designed and developed a global sales training program. He recruited, trained and managed sales trainers to deliver the courses. Other sales training clients have included Gannett Company, Microsoft, Pharmacia, Prudential and Volkswagen.

Dr. Brennan has developed the interpersonal skills of hundreds of sales reps and managers in intense, small group, interactive, classroom-style courses. As a trainer/facilitator, he has achieved outstanding participant satisfaction ratings. He’s the author of the book “Consultative Selling Skills” and publisher of the “Sales Coaching Matters” newsletter and numerous articles on sales and sales training.

If you would like to ask John any specific questions, feel free to use the question section of your webinar on the control panel. On the top-right corner of your screen, you’ll see a little orange arrow you can click and then you’ll see a questions section where you can write down your questions. Dr. Brennan will be responding to these questions at the end of the webinar, so stay tuned.

Without further ado, I would like to turn it over to our presenter today, Dr. John Brennan.

John: Thank you, Enrique and welcome, everybody. I imagine if that you’re like most consultants that I know, you are responsible for sales as you have responded. But you see sales as a necessary evil. Partly, that’s because you’re not quite sure that what you’re doing is the right thing to do, that it’s the most effective thing to do. You get a lot of your sales right now probably from the sheer energy that you project and enthusiasm that you have for your products and services. Based on that, you close a lot of deals.

But there’s another way and that is a consultative approach to sales. That’s what we’re talking about here today. I’m going to use the word “sales” and “rainmaking” interchangeably. It’s the same thing.

So let’s first talk about our objectives, which is simply to apply some rainmaking strategies and skills to develop new business. Now, let’s talk about, first of all, how your client manages consultant relationships. How do they judge what to do with a new consultant who approaches them?

You start out as an unknown bidder. They see you as just somebody that they don’t know. Perhaps you’re putting in a bid on a request for a proposal that they put out. Or perhaps you’re just approaching them to introduce yourself.

If you are fortunate enough to win some business from them, they then see you as a supplier. As someone they can call on when needed to provide services. If you do well as a supplier, then they look at you as a preferred supplier. They try to… they give you more opportunities and give you first crack at opportunities that arise.

If you do well with that, then they allow you to become a problem solver. To actually work with them to figure out what needs to go into a request for a proposal or what kind of services do they need and where do they fit into their organization?

Then finally, if you’re good at problem-solving, you become, truly, a partner with them. When you’re a partner, you’re not just a supplier anymore, you’re part of their team. So you’re able to identify issues in their organization that need attention and that you have access to as many people as you want. You have access to data in the organization and you are treated as part of their team.

So becoming a partner is our goal for most of us, most of the time. However, it’s also appropriate to be a problem-solver or simply a preferred supplier, depending on who the client is.

So what’s the process that we go through from start to finish in Rainmaking? In winning business? Well, we start out prospecting. Then we go to . . . when we’ve got a good prospect, the first thing we want to do is to qualify them. In other words, are they in the market right now for your services?

Then we talk with them about, perhaps, accepting a proposal from you. From there, we go to presenting the proposal and closing the business. So that’s the four-step process that we’re going to be referring to throughout this presentation.

So where do we get prospects? Well, for consultants, the number one source of prospects is referrals. If you’re not getting most of your business from referrals, then you need to ask for them. Because referrals are . . . you become pre-qualified if you like from the client’s point of view. You come already recommended, you come with some background, with some proof that your services work. With some satisfied customers. So referrals are your number one and most important source of prospects.

Other sources include your website, networking, a blog or a newsletter. I encourage you to have either one or both of those. Webinars like this, speaking, if you can, in conferences and in industry events. Directories and LinkedIn is also a good source of prospects. Or at least a good source to check out prospects.

Finally, and I put this at the bottom for a good reason, cold calling. Cold calling is prospecting of the last resort. You should only do cold calling when you’ve done all of these. You can think of referrals a warm call in contrast to a cold call or any of these others are warm calls. We’ve already qualified the prospect to some extent in that they’re interested in your business.

So how do you find these prospects? Well, one way to approach it is to identify the top prospects in your market. Who are the top ten companies that you want to work with? Who do you think, from your point of view, would be a good match for you and your services with their organizational needs?

Then ask your network for referrals to those prospects. You can use LinkedIn to do that and get them to use . . . get your contacts on LinkedIn to introduce you via e-mail. By the way, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you really should be. It’s a great source of information about your clients and a great opportunity to find new prospects.

Your objective, once you’ve found a contact within your target organization, is to qualify them and get the appointment. And qualifying means “Are they MAD?” MAD is an acronym which stands for “Do they have the money? Do they have the authority to make the decision? And do they have the desire?” Are they interested in what you’ve got to offer? You don’t waste your time on anybody who is not qualified.

So here’s how it might work for those who are interested in mathematics. Let’s say that you want to get two new clients, two new projects a month and let’s say that you have 100 prospects to begin with. To get two new prospects, to get two new accounts, you would need to have at least ten prospects in the funnel, three of which would become qualified. So you’d pursue three out of the ten and then close perhaps as much as 70% of the three that you pursue. In other words, two out of three. So there’s your two.

It’s good to keep in mind that this funnel system that’s keeping track of the numbers of how many prospects and how many that you ended up that were qualified and you pursued and how many you closed, it’s a good way to help you identify any weak spots that you might have in your sales process. It also facilitates business planning. You can count on two accounts a week, a month, then you can project your income a lot more easily. It smooths out the peaks and valleys, the inevitable peaks and valleys that most consultants experience.

So keeping track of your prospects and trying to use these numbers as a benchmark can really help you. It can really help with your Rainmaking.

Okay, so we’re finished with prospecting, we’re now going to talk about qualifying and assessing. But let’s first talk about what that first contact with your prospect is like. How do you build a relationship with a prospective client? Keeping in mind that you’ve got to . . . to get any sale, there’ always some emotion and some reason involved.

Reasons alone won’t get a prospect to be converted to a client. They need to have some emotion. They need to feel some pain and they need to feel that what you’re offering will relieve that pain. So there needs to be emotion present and there needs to be some logic.

So it’s important, initially, to start to build a relationship so that you can discover these things. These things are not . . . I’m just going to list them up here for you to take a look at. They are things that you know how to do. There’s no new skill involved in here. I’ll pick out just a few.

Using your client’s name early and often is a good thing because as to paraphrase Shakespeare, “Nothing sounds as good to you as the sound of your name.” So use a prospect’s name.

Make eye contact if it’s an appointment and person to person. Shake the hands. Don’t miss an opportunity to shake hands. It shows to that customer that you are a real person. That you’re a warm human being just like them.

Show genuine interest in your client. If you can break the ice with laughter, that’s great. I’m terrible at that. My wife tells me “John, don’t tell jokes. You screw up the punch line.” So that’s one that I find difficult to use. But the others are easy to use. You just need to make a point of using them.

Okay, before you pick up the phone and make that call to a qualified prospect, you want to find out a little bit about their background. You can get most of this information from the Web, from Google, from press releases, from their annual report, from LinkedIn. Finally, you can get this information when you first meet with them simply by interviewing them. But it’s best to come in loaded with some information about them. That makes a better impression and enhances your credibility.

You want to know their mission and strategy. You want to know the relevant department’s goals and key result areas. What are they really working on? What are their top three projects that they’ve got going this year? What’s their current economic state? Are they going to be able to pay you? What major challenges and obstacles do they see to their top three priorities this year? What’s their organization structure? Names, titles and phone numbers of key stakeholders. Their perceptions of your firm and then their most pressing and immediate needs.

So in this first contact, your goal is to understand what the opportunities are here. One very simple way of doing that is simply talk about some of these background areas. Especially that question of “Mr. Prospect, what are your most important projects that you’re working on this year? What are the obstacles that you see those projects? Then, what are you doing about those obstacles?” Then, at that point, often, you’ve hit a nerve and they begin to get a little bit antsy. Then you know that this is an opportunity for you and that’s when you say “Maybe I can help. Maybe I can be of service here. Maybe I can help overcome that obstacle to help you reach your project goals.” So you’re positioning yourself as a consultant. Someone who can help. Someone who can help them reach their goals. So as we said earlier, the qualified prospects are MAD. They have the money, authority and desire.

Listening and probing and “probing” means asking questions, are the key skills in qualifying. You have to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of listening and just to figure out whether this person is worth pursuing. Maybe the organization’s still a good prospect, but this particular person that you’re talking to, the particular contact may not be. So you need to qualify them by asking those questions.

Then you want to find out what are their business needs and priorities? Most of their needs and priorities can fall into the buckets of make money, save money or improve productivity. Almost always, that’s where the pain is.

Clients like to avoid pain. They’re human beings, they want to avoid pain. The word “VUCA” is an acronym and it stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Your clients hate those things. They want everything to be clear and smooth. When they’re not; when there’s volatility, uncertainty, complexity or ambiguity around, they become uncomfortable. That’s a point where they bring in a consultant, is when they’re uncomfortable. It’s your job, initially, to identify that pain. To find out just how strong that need, that desire is for them to ease the pain. Then show them how you can help.

As I said earlier, it takes emotion as well as logic to make a sale. People have various levels of emotional needs. This particular triangle, this model was created by a psychologist many years ago named Abraham Maslow. Many of you may be familiar with him. He said that we start with basic needs for security. A roof over our head, food on the table. That’s our basic need and that’s what we will pursue. We won’t pay any attention to anything else until we get that need met.

Once it’s met, then we look to belong somewhere. To belong to family, to belong in an organization, to belong on a team. To be part of something, to feel included. So we need to feel included in something that’s meaningful.

When we’re included, when we’re on a team, we’re in an organization, we’ve got a job and we’re pursuing some objectives. The next thing we look for is “What can I learn from this experience?” “Will this lead to promotions for me?” So they’re looking for growth opportunities.

Next, they’re looking for, is recognition. This is where I depart a little bit from Maslow myself. I think recognition is a need that starts way back here. But we all need recognition. We all like to know that our efforts are appreciated. We all like to know that people understand what we’re trying to do and what our objectives are and that they appreciate those and give us feedback, positive feedback. We need that.

Finally, once all these needs are met, then we’re going to self-actualization. Which according to Maslow, means that we are self-sufficient. That we work for the love of the work. We work because it enables us to become all that we’re capable of becoming and we don’t need these outside influences like recognition and pay and incentives in order to feel good about ourselves and to be fulfilled and fully capable of doing all the talents that we have.

So these are the needs that we might plug into with a client. A client can be at any one of these stages when we approach them. It’s our job to find out just where are they on this hierarchy? And how can we respond to that in order to close a deal?

Most of those needs, whether they’re business needs or these emotional needs, are like an iceberg. They’ll talk about . . . or it’s easy to see some of them and at the top of the iceberg, the requirements, for example. Perhaps they’ve put out an RFP or they’re wanting to talk about the requirements for the engagement.

But their emotional needs and some of their more hidden, but important business needs, are underneath the iceberg. As we know, just like the iceberg, they’re bigger and there’s more of them than there are on the top. So we’ve got to uncover those clients’ needs and the way to do that is to listen and ask questions.

Some other benefits of listening, rather than talking, is that your client is going to feel positively disposed towards you. They’re going to feel good about you. Surprisingly, when you listen, they’ll tell you all that you need to know in order to win their confidence and win their business. They may repeat things because they’re not sure that you heard them and understood. The more they repeat something, that’s a signal that it’s of importance to them. So if they keep talking about value and they keep bringing up value early on and talk about it often, you can pretty sure that that’s what they want to see in your proposal. That’s what they want to hear from you when you talk with them about your services.

Listening also shows respect and caring about the other person. Respect and caring is one of those emotional needs that we talked about.

It also instills confidence in the client that you will be able to deliver a project that addresses their needs. You’ve listened to their needs, so now, there’s a reasonable expectation that you’ll be able to deliver a project that meets those needs.

You can look at yourself as listening as a gift to your client. A gift of your time and attention. You’re putting aside everything else for the moment. All your other thoughts, all your other goals, all your objectives, everything that you want to say and simply listening. Simply taking in what they say, what your client says and viewing the world through your client’s eyes.

Finally, that benefit of listening is that when it comes your turn to do the talking and to present your proposal to talk about your services, then they are more likely to listen to you. So a quid pro quo.

Okay. Here’s some little tips on listening. Putting yourself in the client’s shoes. Focusing your mind on what the client’s saying and not what you want to say or what you’re going to say next or what you think you should say next or what question you want to ask next. But simply zeroing in on what they’re saying. Shutting out distractions. Listening for the entire story. The whole story, not just a piece of it. Try and get a picture of what’s really going on inside this organization. Not just the little piece . . . the requirement, perhaps, that they’re talking about.

Okay, finally, check your ego at the door. Sales is not a place where big egos that are easily bruised can do well. You need to be able to listen to a client, get feedback from a client; sometimes, it’s negative. You need to be able to hear that, take it in, understand it without becoming defensive.

So in addition to listening, you’ve got to probe, which simply means ask questions. You’ve got to probe for the facts, the story and the pain and the feelings. The gain or the pain. Are they excited about this project that they’re doing because it’s going to result in more money or save more time or increase productivity? Or are they concerned that if they do nothing, that they’ll lose money and lose time and decrease productivity? Is their pain there?

When you’re asking questions, watch their verbal and nonverbal communication. Watch for their reaction to what you say. Do they lean forward and show interest when you’re talking about part of your services? Or they lean back and fold their arms indicating that they’re not interested in what you’re saying or they disagree with what you’re saying? A good rule of thumb about changes in a client’s body language and their nonverbal communication, is that whenever you see a change, the best thing to do is to stop talking and ask a question. Don’t keep talking. Because they’re not listening. You’re digging for hidden information. You use open questions to get information and the questions that begin with “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” “Why?” Used closed probes to gain agreements and those are “Will you?” “Would you?” “Do you?” “Can I?” So to gather information, use open probes. To close on or to get an agreement, use closed probes.

Finally and these are the most difficult questions of all, follow-up probes. To get your client to elaborate on something that they’ve been talking about or clarify with word choices or the meaning of jargon and having time since you left a meeting or a phone call and asking yourself “What exactly did he mean when he talked about productivity?”

So we’ve talked about today . . . we’ve talked about prospecting and qualifying and assessing. Now, we’re going to talk about preparing a proposal. At this point, you’ve qualified your prospect. They’re interested and they ask you for a proposal. This may be a formal proposal when writing or it simply might be a verbal one where they say “Well, what can you do to help?” “What do you think you can do to help relieve this pain?” “What do you think you can do to solve this problem?” In either case, you need to be prepared.

The first thing you need to be prepared with is a value proposition. So what’s a value proposition? Well, it’s a statement that quantifies anticipated improvements for your client. It states the payback period, the return on investment that they can expect from your services. Many of us forget to do this. That we talk about our price and what we don’t is talk about how that’s going to make money for them or save them some money, specifically.

The more specific you can be with your value proposition, the better. For example, you could say “Hi, Mr. Prospect. My name is John Brennan. Sarah Smith suggested I give you a call. We help companies like yours improve sales results by 20%, by developing the skills of your sales consultants. Do you have a moment to discuss this?”

So your value proposition is a great opener when you call a prospect from a referral. The more quantifiable it can be, the more effective it is. The more credibility it has and the more likely your customer or your client is going to listen to you.

You should also have a differentiator. What this means is that your competitors may have a similar value proposition. They may come into your client and say the same things that you’re saying. So you need to place in your client’s mind, something that is going to help differentiate you from your competitor.

It doesn’t have to be anything that’s like world peace. It’s just got to be something that’s of value to your client. It can be a very small thing that’s a little differentiator. If you’ve been in the market for buying a car, for example, the prices may all be the same and you shop around and you find that all the dealers are offering the same product for basically the same price. Then one of them just says “I’ll throw in some car mats.” Or “I’ll throw in a little extra feature, heated seat.” That seals the deal. Because they’ve differentiated themselves and they’ve added a little bit of extra value.

Clients buy benefits, not features and not advantages. What do these mean? Well, let’s take an example of a cup, an ordinary drinking cup. A feature of the cup is that it has a handle. The advantage of that handle is that it doesn’t burn your fingers. The benefit of it is that if you’re in the market for a cup, this is a good one.

A feature is not enough for a client to buy. Simply saying “We’ve got this great seven-step process that’s going to solve this problem for you, Mr. Client” isn’t enough. They’ve got to see that there’s a real benefit to them. That it’s by your . . . that this feature is actually going to result in some cost savings to them, some increased productivity. Some increase in revenue.

Okay, customers also buy proof. They want to see proof that what you say you do is effective, that it’s worked. That you’ve done it before. Again, here’s something . . . this is something that we often forget to include in our presentations with our clients. They want to see that they’re not the guinea pig. They want to be sure that they can go to their boss and say “I hired XYZ Consulting because they’re the best in the business and they’ve been very successful for X number of years and they’ve done lots of projects and gotten good results.” As the old saying, “Nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM.”

Clients are risk-averse when it comes to hiring consultants. They want to be sure . . . they want to minimize the amount of risks that they face and they want to be absolutely sure that you are fully confident and capable of pulling off this project.

The old “What’s in it for me?” Okay, so how do you prepare a proposal and a presentation to present to your client? Well, across the top here, you’ll see that there are task objectives, “business objectives,” if you’d like and relationship objectives. Remember we’ve said that all along, that in order to close a sale, you’ve got to have logic, you’ve got to have rationale. You’ve got to make the business case. That you also, at the same time, you’ve got to meet their emotional needs and you do that by developing the relationship.

Your introduction, whether it’s to a written document or a verbal presentation, is to define a problem, define the client’s problem. You don’t launch in with “Well, we’re the greatest and here’s what we do and here’s why we’re the best and here’s some places where we’ve done it.”

Define the client’s problem. In not too much detail, just succinctly and state the meeting or the objective of your proposal in terms of a benefit to the client. So that they’ll be, again, you’re going to help them save money, make money, save time through your solution.

At the same time, we have a relationship objective during this introduction. You need to get their attention and you need to establish rapport to start building that relationship. In the main part of your presentation, your task objective is to sell your solution. Your solution may be made up of three or four points. You just take one of your points at a time. Talk about the benefits of that point, of that feature, perhaps. What are the benefits of it? What’s the proof? If you can, a little story about this feature. How it came about or better still, how a client is using this feature right now, currently and getting some success.

Now, proof can be made up of either success stories. “ABC Company has used our services and resulted in a 20% savings for them.” It can be based on research. “We have developed a new process or a new tool and it’s been research-tested. We’ve got validity and reliability data for it. We’ve got Alpha and Beta testing. So this is proof, hardcore data that it works. That our services do what we say they’re going to do.”

Proof can also be through a testimonial. A written or verbal statement from a client saying that, in fact, they were satisfied with your services and got the results that you say that you got.

Finally, another source of proof can be any publicity that you’ve had in the media. An article in a newspaper or in social media that talks about your successes and your competencies.

During the body of this presentation, you’ve got to keep them engaged. The best way to do that is watch their body language. As I said earlier, if you see a change in their body language, it’s best to stop and ask a question.

It may simply be that they’re uncomfortable and getting tired sitting in their chair and simply just want to shift. But by asking them a question, if they have any questions or what do they think so far. If they don’t have any questions or any opinion at that point, they’ll simply say “No.” Or if they’ve changed their body language because they’re not convinced of your proof, for example and you ask them a question, that’s when you’ve flushed that objection out into the open. You can’t deal with objections that are hidden. You have to get them out in the open to deal with them.

Finally, a conclusion. A summary that relates back to your value proposition. That what you’re going to do to solve their problem. And a call for action. Even if they’ve made it clear that they’re not making a decision today, always, whenever you finish any kind of interaction with a client, give them an assignment so that they had something invested in your sales process. The assignment might be to get an organizational chart for you and e-mail it to you. The assignment might be to talk with somebody else in the company about your services. It doesn’t matter how small it is; as long as they’ve got something to do before your next meeting. Always set up your next meeting before you leave and don’t leave it with them saying “Well, I’ll give you a call.” That’s the kiss of death. When they say “I’ll give you a call,” it’s better to say “How about we just schedule that call right now?”

Okay, so we’ve talked about prospecting, we’ve talked about qualifying to see if they’re MAD–if they’ve got the money, authority and desire. We’ve talked about preparing a proposal and presenting it. Now, we’ll talk a little bit more about presenting and closing.

Okay, what are the elements of the persuasive presentation? Well, the most powerful way to make sure that your presentation is a success, is to involve your client in it. One simple way to do that is when they ask for a proposal, for example, you can say “What would you like to see in that proposal? What are the key things?” Then, they’ll tell you. Sometimes, they’ll tell you “I just want a one-page document. Don’t give me 15 pages.” On another instance, they might say “I want lots of information about case studies, of things that you’ve done before. I want to know names and phone numbers and e-mail addresses of clients that you’ve worked with previously.” They’ll tell you what they need to see in order to give you the business.

Open with that tailored value proposition. With a brief statement of their problem and how you plan to solve it and what result it will have and what impact will have on their organization in terms of money or productivity. Differentiate your message early on so that you’re locking out the competition.

Link clients’ business and emotional needs to your solution. You’ve got to be able to tie . . . not just make that business case, but also those emotional needs into your solution. You can do it subtly. You do it, say, “Can you imagine, Mr. Client, if we can get this problem solved through our services, what will do that for you and your career?” Imagine what your boss is going to say.

In each of step of your presentation, as we mentioned earlier, make sure you talk about the benefits of it. “We’ve got a seven-step process, Mr. Client and step one, we do an assessment. Here are the benefits of doing the assessment.” Don’t take it for granted that they know what those benefits are.

Again, also, show proof that your approach works. “Our first step, Mr. Client, is to do an assessment. What’s that’s going to mean is that the benefits of that as it will know how to target the issues and that way, save you time and money. By the way Mr. Client, we’ve done this very successfully at ABC Company.” That’s the proof.

Of course, when you’re making a presentation, use color, visuals and multimedia, if you can. Always close with a request for action and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Okay, now from time to time, clients are going to throw out objections. Objections are simply requests for more information. That’s the way to look at them. Don’t look at them as “Uh-oh. They don’t like my presentation, they don’t like me. Uh-oh, this is a hurdle that I’m going to have to jump over that they’re throwing up here. This means that they don’t want to buy my services.”

No, it’s simply their way of asking for you to explain, to justify, to prove some point that you’ve been making. So the first thing to do is to listen to the objection without getting defensive. Let’s say they say “Well, your price is too high.” Simply listen to that and ask a question about it and don’t get defensive saying “Well, it’s not really that high because we’ve got all this blah-blah-blah, where our competitors are even higher.” But probe the objection a little bit further and ask them “Your price is too high compared to what, Mr. Client? Do you mean that our prices means that we’re exceeding your budget?” What does it mean that you don’t see the value that you’re getting for that money?

So you probe to find out what that real objection is. Confirm that it’s a real objection. “So Mr. Client, just so that I’m clear, you’re not convinced at this point that you’re getting all the value that you’d like to get from our proposal? Am I right in making that statement, in assuming that?” Get them to agree. Then say . . . use the “Feel, Felt, Found” approach. “Well, you know Mr. Client, many of our clients have felt that way.” Feel that way, initially. They feel that they don’t see the value.

But what they’ve found when they tested it is that they’ve gotten all their benefits and solved all the problems in a way that has satisfied them and everyone else in the part of the project. “So Mr. Customer, what I urge you to do, is like our other clients, is to give it a try. Perhaps a pilot test.”

Okay, so by referring back to somebody else, then you’re taking it away from you. It’s not you, just you, saying “Well, Mr. Client, I promise you it will work. Or I guarantee you it will work.” Better to say “Well, you know, many of our clients have felt that way and here’s what they’ve found when they’ve tested it.”

Always after a client has thrown up an objection like that and they seem satisfied, you want to check with them. “Does that satisfy your concern, Mr. Client?” It’s never “Does that satisfy your objection?” It’s always “Does that satisfy your concern?”

When they nod, that’s the time to go for the close. Because you’re assuming that there isn’t anything else in the way of you and your client doing business. So you simply say that “Is there anything else in the way of us doing business here today, Mr. Client?” If they can’t think of anything, then you say “Okay, then, let’s schedule our first date.”

So clients will give you buying signals that it’s time for you to close them when they’re satisfied. When in their own minds, this is going to work. They like you, they like your services. They think you’ve got a good understanding. They’re satisfied that you can do what you say you’re going to do. So they’re ready for you to ask them for the business.

They do it in some kind of roundabout ways. Sometimes, they ask for details about your services. When you’re going to start . . . when do you typically start, how much time between now and when the project starts might there be. How long might the project take and so on.

An objection, once it’s answered, is a buying signal, which we said earlier. Always try to close after an objection. If they pick up . . . if you’ve given them a copy of your proposal and it’s been sitting there on the desk . . . when they pick it up is often an indication that that they’re satisfied and they’re ready to move on.

Of course, any change in body language, especially if it’s a positive change. Especially if they’ve been sitting back, reflecting, hands on the chin, in that thinking posture while you’re presenting. They either ask some different questions or have thrown out some objections and then they go back to thinking.

Then you say something and at some point, they sort of take a deep breath and a sort of a sigh, almost and lean forward or the whole body language . . . just the whole body relaxes. That’s an indication that it’s time to close. So any change in body language when you’re near the end is a good indication.

One of the best is when they shift from saying “What do you do and tell me about you do?” and they start saying “We.” “Well, we can tackle the problem this way” and the “We” includes . . . the “Us” includes you. That’s a really strong buying signal.

The other thing to remember is it may occur anytime during the call. You may be in the middle of your presentation and you’ll see these buying signals, it’s time to close. Even though you haven’t finished your presentation. Don’t go on, because you’re going to talk yourself out of a sale. Just stop right there and then when you see something and ask “Do you have a question, Mr. Customer?” If they say “No . . . so far, so good, I’m happy.” “Well, then, should we go ahead and schedule the first meeting?” and try to close. They may say “Okay” or they may say “No, I want to hear the rest of your presentation.”

Another technique in closing business is to build up to the big “Yes.” That is to . . . and each time you mention a feature and you talk about a benefit in your presentation, you just might want to ask the client “Does that make sense to you, Mr. Client? Will you see that working in your company for you, Mr. Client? Do you think that will solve the problem for us, help solve the problem for you?” Get them to say “Yes,” so that they get into the habit of saying “Yes.” So when it comes to the big “Yes,” when you want them to a sign document . . . when you want them to schedule the first meeting, it’ll be easier for them to say that.

Remember, too, that when it comes time to close, that you’ve earned the right to ask the client to agree and to move ahead not by a presentation, but by your listening and you’re asking questions and your attempts to understand what’s going on and then responding. That you’ve earned the right. Sometimes, we feel like “I have got no right to ask for all this business,” this huge project, perhaps. But to remember that yes, you do, because you’ve earned it. That’s the way the client will look at it, too. That they owe you an answer. Even if it’s “No,” at least they owe you an answer.

Most sales have a sense of momentum builds and a sense of urgency. The e-mails and phone calls become more closer together. They become shorter and more important and there’s more emotion around them. That’s an indication that the sale is proceeding the way it should be. It’s when things slow down and there doesn’t seem to be much action and there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm around the sales process, on the client’s side. That’s when you get worried.

Always, whatever the purpose of your meeting is, whatever the kind of presentation you’re doing, you’re driving to a commitment to next steps. It’s not just a presentation for the sake of educating or informing your client. It’s in order to close a sale. In order to get them to go to the next step, whatever that might be.

So we’ve covered an awful lot of territory in this webinar today and I just want to say, first of all, thank you for being patient with me and listening to me drone on about this stuff. It’s all important stuff and it’s all critical to a successful Rainmaking.

Let me just summarize a couple of thinking points that I’ve made that I want to make again. That it’s a process of matching your client’s needs; their business needs and their emotional needs to your benefits. To the benefits of your services.

Qualifying your prospects means determining if they are worth pursuing. Qualifying your prospects means determining if they are MAD. Do they have the money, the authority and the desire? If they don’t, don’t waste your time. There are other fish in the sea.

Rapport-building, listening, asking questions. They are all the skills that you need in qualifying. They’re all the initial skills that you need. No, presentation skills is not among them. Presentation skills are important towards the end of the sale, but not so much at the beginning.

Remember that clients buy benefits. They’re always looking for “What’s in it for me? How is this going to help me?” They don’t care if it’s got seven steps toward it or 27, as long as it solves the problem. Objections are requests for information and close when you see buying signals.

Okay, so that’s the end of my presentation. Let me try to close you by saying that by offering this contact information. If you’d like more information about Rainmaking . . . if you need some assistance yourself in Rainmaking with your sales process or with certain specific skills, then give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. Here’s the information that you need to do that. Thank you, everybody.

Enrique: Thank you very much, Dr. Brennan. We’re going to leave the information on while we go through the Q&A in case anyone wants to follow up with Dr. Brennan or has any questions. Feel free to contact him directly or through his Zintro profile.

We’re going to move on to answer a couple of questions from the audience. Again, if you guys have any specific questions, feel free to use the “Questions” section of your GoToWebinar utility.

So we have a question from David. David asks “What is the best way to ask for referrals? Is there a script, per se?”

John: Well, first of all, timing is important. The best time to ask for a referral is when your client gives you positive feedback. When they congratulate you on doing the job. Or simply say something like “Boy, we really knocked this one out of the ballpark, didn’t we?” That’s the time to say “You know, Mr. Client, like you, I refer on referrals to grow my business and I wonder if you would mind giving me the names of two or three people that you think might be interested in my services.” Always ask for two or three. Because then, they’ll feel some pressure and they may only come up with one and one will be plenty for you.

But if you ask for one and they can simply say “Gee, I don’t know anybody.” But two or three sets the expectation they must know some and you would like to get them. Next question?

Enrique: Thanks. We have another question by . . . it’s kind of a follow-up. It’s a similar question with a slight difference from Steve. He asks “What’s the easiest, most effective way to ask for referrals, from end users, possible clients, without sounding sleazy. How about asking for referrals from alliance partners?”

John: Alliance partners. Sure. That your suppliers, your partners, your clients. They’re all people that you can ask for a referral from.

You know, there’s nothing sleazy about it if you have done a good job for your client or your supplier. That if they’re feeling grateful towards you, there’s nothing sleazy about it. In fact, they want to help you at that point. They want to be able to say “I’m the guy that brought in this consultant who helps to solve this problem” and they want to tell the world about it. That’s the way of telling the world, is to give referrals.

Also, if you say that if you make them remember that that’s the way they grow their business and say something like “We grow our business the way you do, through referrals.” It just brings it all down to “Look, we’re all in business together and this is the way it works.” Next question?

Enrique: Thanks. We have a question . . . well, it’s two questions, but they’re very similar so I’m going to bring them together by Tom and by Nico [SP]. “If you’re new in the consulting business, how do you compensate for the lack of reference from previous clients?”

John: Okay, that’s a tough one. So if you don’t have any research to prove that your services work, then you should go dig for it. It simply might be . . . let’s say you have a model of consulting and you’ve drawn it from a well-known, well-published consulting firm or consultant, then use that. Say that “Our seven-step process is built on the process . . . that same process that the guru of the industry, Mr. XYZ or the leading consulting company in the country, the large big ones, this is what they use. It’s the same process. So we can assure you that it’s going to get results for you.” Okay?

Enrique: Okay. Next question, we have a question by Beatrice and she says “Thanks a lot for your information, great webinar. One of the toughest environments to start negotiations are the so-called business meetings at fairs or trade missions. Where the time to talk is very limited. What would your best suggestions in these cases?”

John: Okay, at a trade or a fair, your objective is to, first of all, get the information of the particular prospect; their name, e-mail and phone number. If they give you that and if it’s a whole bunch of people crowding around your booth at a trade show, then sometimes, that’s all that you can do, is just get their name, e-mail and phone number and ask them if you can follow up with them. Get them to say “Yes” to that and then move on to the next person.

If they are the only one or it’s quieter . . . and if they’re the only one that you’re talking to at that time, then you should get their name, phone number, e-mail and ask them and find out if they’re MAD. Do they have the money? Do they have budget for this? Do they have the authority, the “A” for authority? Are they decision-maker? Then “D,” what level of interest do they have in it? What desire do they have? So attempt to begin to qualify them.

By the way, in asking them the sensitive question of “Are they the decision-maker?” Rather than simply put it bluntly like that, it’s better to say something like “Who do you need to consult in order to come to a decision about this?” Or “What’s the decision-making process in your company?” Or “Who else is involved in this decision?” That way, you protect the ego of your prospective client, but you get the information that you need.

Don’t go any further than qualifying them. If they are qualified, then your next objective is to set up an appointment with them immediately and tell them you would like to come in and talk about their needs and talk about your services in more detail. Get that objective, get that meeting.

If they’re not qualified, don’t waste any more time with them. Okay, next question?

Enrique: Thanks, Dr. Brennan. We’re going to go through a couple more, we’re running out of time. But I will provide Dr. Brennan with all remaining questions, so he can follow up after the presentation.

We’re going to do a couple more. We have a question by Reza [SP]. Reza asks “If the client’s point of view on contractors is as an obeying agent, what can we do?”

John: If you go back to the steps . . . the ladder that we talked about, the steps that we talked about early in the presentation. If they see you as simply a vendor, a supplier, then that’s all they’re going to do. They’re going to tell you . . . they’re going to supervise you very closely. They’re going to give very close direction because they don’t know you well enough to trust you.

So it’s your job to do a good job for them so that they can begin to trust you, to build some relationships with them so that they can begin to trust you. When they trust you, then they’ll ease up on the supervision. They won’t throw out so many directions. It will enable you to become a preferred supplier or a problem solver.

Now, that’s the ideal situation. However, sometimes, no matter what you do, they keep you under their thumb. That’s the way they want it and all the psychology in the world isn’t going to get them to change that. In that case, you’re just simply going to ask yourself “Is this is a piece of business that I want?” It might be. It might be good bread and butter for you.

But most of your clients, you’re aiming to become a partner with. Okay?

Enrique: Great. We have . . . let’s go for a last question by Leticia [SP]. “Do you have any suggestions on determining the costs of your services?”

John: Well, I’m no marketing expert. Sales is my niche. But I’ve got . . . I take two approaches. The first is cost plus profit. It’s to simply figure out . . . ask yourself if you’re an individual consultant “How much money do I want to make this year?” Let’s say you say $150,000. Then you say “Okay, what is the cost of my services per day?” There are 260 working days in a year. Let’s make it simple. There are 150 working days in a year. Divide that into $150,000, then you come up with $1,000 a day that you need to get.

So that’s one approach to doing it. That’s the approach I use. It usually comes out that the price is fair and manageable for the client.

The second approach is to survey the market as best you can, find out what other consultants are charging and then put yourself in about the middle. Being neither the lowest, nor the highest. That’s another method I’ve used, too, at times. Again, I’m not an expert, but those are two suggestions that I can make for you. Any more questions?

Enrique: Well, we have a couple more, but we’re running out of time. So we’ll have to follow up after the presentation. Dr. Brennan, on behalf of Zintro and our over 160,000 members, thank you so much for sharing your insights.

Guys, this closes today’s presentation. We will be sharing the recording of this presentation in the following weeks, so look forward to that in your e-mail. You can also check it out by going to our blog, which is blog.zintro.com/webinars.

This closes today’s presentation. I wish you all a very nice day. Thank you very much.

John: Thank you.