Up-front contracts are a powerful tool in the Sandler Selling System. By agreeing, up-front, with a prospect on what will take place during a sales interaction, including an agenda, time limit, and next steps, you are in control of the sale. But beware—a wishy-washy contract is as good as no contract at all. For example, if you can’t get an agreement as to the agenda of your meeting, you won’t be able to prepare and you won’t be able to guide the meeting. If you can’t agree on the next step in the process, or indeed if there is a next step, you’ll likely find yourself chasing the prospect, and wasting your time on someone who probably won’t be taking you to the bank. Up-front contracts are a very specific tool with specific guidelines that make them effective. “About an hour or so,” “Why don’t you call me sometime next week,” or “I may be able to have that for you,” are not phrases that make an up-front contract stick. You want to hear, “I’ll clear an hour for you on Tuesday at 1 p.m., and I’ll have those numbers in front of me.”
Prospects are People Too
When David Sandler decided that traditional selling techniques just couldn’t provide the systematic selling approach that he instinctively knew could be the basis of a successful sales career, he turned to psychology and human dynamics. After all, the one element that all prospects share in common is that they are all people, and people have common behavior and communication patterns that have been identified and can generally be predicted. By using accepted psychological tenets and adapting them to the selling situation, David Sandler was able to develop a selling system that addressed the needs of the prospect from both a business and a personal perspective. That’s why the Sandler Selling System is so effective—it recognizes prospects as people.
Deal with Objections Up-Front
Here’s something a traditionally trained salesperson would never say to a prospect: “Earlier you said that green wasn’t a problem for you, although you preferred red. Before you sign this contract, I want to make sure you still feel that way.” Bringing up a possible problem for the sale—unheard of! But the Sandler trained salesperson knows that if you don’t post-sell by allowing the prospect to revisit possible objections you are far more likely to get that phone message the next day saying the deal is off and the prospect changed his mind. Don’t just get the signature and go for the door—make sure that signature is solid by confronting possible deal-breakers.
Adding Value for Your Client
Keeping clients is as challenging as finding them, and there are many ways to add value for your clients to help maintain a lasting relationship:
Problem-solving support: If you learn that your customer is having a recurring problem in some area of their operation, offer to help them explore options for solutions through brainstorming or focus groups.
Newsletters: Your marketing or corporate communications department should produce a newsletter for clients and prospects.
Web site: A well designed Web site is an excellent marketing tool, and can also be used to add value to the customer relationship. An e-mail link to customer service, sales, and other departments will make your clients feel connected.
Customer appreciation activities: Offer to put together a series of breakfast or lunch seminars on hot industry topics. Or, invite clients to hear a guest speaker and have several of your company personnel on hand to mingle.
Networking: Use your networking contacts to help your clients. Take a client to one of your professional association meetings.
You Make the Call
Situation: Following the guidelines for an up-front contract, you gave your prospect “homework” for your first face-to-face meeting. You asked him to prepare a list of the three most challenging issues he is facing in his business. At the meeting you find that he has not gone through the exercise. Is this breech of the contact enough to indicate it’s time to close the file, or is there a next step for you?
Action: This is a common occurrence. The prospect often doesn’t do his homework, but Sandler has a technique to engage the prospect and keep the meeting on track. When the prospect tells you that he didn’t prepare his three issues, simply say something like, “That’s not a problem. If you’re like me, you spend most of your time putting out fires, and it’s hard to find the time to do actual planning. Let’s take a few minutes now to make that list.” Now you’re back on track, with surface pains identified. His failure to do his homework doesn’t mean your prospect is rejecting you, it just means he needs a bit of “after school help.”
If you're not satisfied with your sales, we invite you to participate in one of our workshops for FREE as our guest - along with paying clients. In other words, these are real training workshops, not promotional programs. Next Wednesday on 1/11/17 in Braintree we're having a sales workshop called "Up-Front Contracts" that will help you gain and maintain control of the sales process. Register today for Up-Front Contracts.
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