The Diagnose phase is now complete. In summary:
As salespeople, we have helped customers to realize that they have a problem that is seriously affecting their personal and/or business objectives.
With our assistance, the customer has thoroughly explored the dimensions of the problem and assigned a total cost to it.
The customer has determined whether that cost justifies immediate action relative to other issues and opportunities they face.
If we are still in the room at this point in the engagement, it is for one reason only: The customer has made the decision to buy.
We have not made a sales presentation. In fact, we haven't devoted any significant time to describing our solutions at all.
We haven't exerted any pressure on the customer whatsoever. Nevertheless, the customer has decided there is a problem that is costing more than he or she is willing to absorb and that we, the salespeople, understand the situation.
It is very important to recognize:
You don't need to have a solution to have a problem and
You don't need to have a solution to diagnose a problem.
Introducing solutions too early will frequently diffuse the decision process and distract from a clear diagnosis. One of the keys to managing the decision process is staying true to the decision at hand.
We have the inside track on this sale.
How did this happen? It resulted from a simple, logical change progression that has taken place in the customer's mind:
There is a problem.
It costs a fixed amount of money to leave it unattended.
That amount of money is significant enough to act on.
That decision to act is the decision to solve the problem or, more directly, the decision to buy a solution.
At the same time customers are reaching the critical stage in the change progression, salespeople have been establishing their own value in the customer's eyes. They have earned the customer's professional respect because of their ability to conduct a high-quality diagnosis. The customer's trust is gained because of the salesperson's willingness to end the engagement at any time the diagnosis revealed that a problem did not exist or was not worth acting on. The salesperson has created exceptional credibility by demonstrating an in-depth understanding of the customer's business. Now that the customer has made the decision to change, who do you think the customer believes is best qualified to help design a high-quality solution to the problem?
Granted the customer may not openly announce their decision, but they will present a more open and trusting demeanor. Signs such as answering questions very openly and providing access to people and information will verify and back up the fact that the decision has been made.
If you grab hold of this idea, and it is well-supported by our research, it will provide a profound change to your business. Your days of pre-mature presentations will be over, and your proposal conversion ratio will increase dramatically.
The topics covered herein concern solution sales, consultative sales, and consultative selling.