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You Have a Beautiful Home

You Have a Beautiful Home

When my wife and I sold our home in St. Louis to move to Philadelphia, we interviewed a number of realtors. One of my standard questions to these realtors was, “What are the problems with this house? What do we need to change or neutralize in order to sell it for the maximum price?”

Most of the realtors immediately plunged into a long description of the flaws and imperfections of our home and provided detailed descriptions of what they would fix. One realtor, however, would have none of this. Her only response was, “You have a lovely home.” She absolutely refused to be critical of our house until we agreed to list our house with her. We didn’t choose her as our realtor (we chose a realtor who was referred by someone we trusted, the ultimate sales tool) However we were struck by the fact that this woman was a sales pro. She had a process that she used to persuade homeowners to list their homes with her, and one part of that process was to never provide criticism or consulting until after people signed a contract with her.

Performance Principle: Save your consulting for after the contact is signed. Don’t try to begin new business relationships by telling people all the things they are doing wrong. Instead, clarify specifically how you can help them and what this is worth in dollars and cents. And save your feedback and criticism for the client until the contract is signed.

Here are some points to remember and steps to take to improve your consultative selling process:

1. People assume you know what you are talking about. Experts of all stripes believe that they must convince people of their expertise. Prospective clients generally assume that you know what you are talking about unless you convince them otherwise. So stop giving away your expertise in a low-percentage ploy to increase your credibility.

2. Clarify objectives and value, don’t discuss methodology. Instead of spending your time describing how you will solve someone’s problem, focus on clarifying what problems you will solve and how much value this will create. The quality of your questions will go a long way to revealing your expertise without getting you bogged down in discussing technicalities which no one finds valuable.

3. Define specific key results. Clients often talk in overarching terms about their objectives. This helps you to understand the big picture from their perspective, but you have to get more specific as well. You must define specific key results that will indicate if your work together is being successful. These should be specific, measurable results that are tied to your work (our customer acquisition numbers increase by 20%; we operate 5 new programs in the first half of 2009).

4. “Dollarize” problems for clients. Translate every key result that you discuss with a client into dollars. If you are going to help a company overhaul its IT infrastructure, how much money will that make or save for your client? If you are helping a professional services firm implement a new sales tracking system, what is that worth to the client? If you can’t connect the dots between your actions and these hard dollars, you are not going to getting hired.

5. Ask people to work with you. You have to invite prospective clients to work with you. After clarifying key results and “dollarizing” problems, I say something like this: “Joe, I invite you to work with me on this, I think we can make a lot of progress together.” Short, sweet and effective.

6. After the invitation, stop talking. After inviting a prospective client to work with you, you have to stop talking – a feat many of us find difficult. Give the other person an opportunity to agree to become your client.


What do you think? Leave a comment!