Here is the scenario: Percolating in your brain is an idea for an interesting initiative that you are certain will work well in the organization of a good and steady client. You figure that you may be able to sell them on it and create a paying project for yourself. You speak with a couple of people and identify the decision-maker and key influencers. You vet your idea through an influencer, who supports it and gives you the green light to approach the primary decision-maker. You make the appointment.
Over coffee, you make your pitch. The decision-maker is pleasant, yet starts backing away from your concept, even though you’ve verified its usefulness via your influencer. How do you get to the heart of your client’s objections, successfully overcome them, save the sale and get paid?
The late, great sales guru Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author of several sales training books, once said that every sale has five obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire and no trust. The Freelance consultant as salesperson’s job is to uncover and overcome whatever mix of these objections and persuade the client that the proposal is worthwhile and will make the client look good to superiors and peers.
Realize that “no” does not always mean “no”. Sometimes clients say no when there is limited time and energy available to evaluate what has been proposed. The need may be relevant, but other matters take precedence and your proposal is not perceived as urgent. As a result, the decision-maker is not inclined to address the issue in the near future and it is easier to decline.
Alternatively, you may not deliver a sales pitch that inspires either desire or trust (confidence). Homework may have been done to confirm the need and identify key players, but it is still necessary to communicate a narrative that will convince the decision-maker to take that leap of faith and put him/herself on the line for your proposal.
Budget constriction is another frequent objection, regardless of the state of the economy. When conferring with your influencer, it is always important to find out if there is available budget to support your proposal and also gauge what will motivate your decision-maker to petition for funding.
When selling, it is necessary to present the details that the client needs and wants to make the decision, no more and no less. It is important not to give too much information, or you could confuse the client or open up a can of worms that will turn on you. Neither can one be vague. Give all relevant information and express it clearly and concisely. Describe the benefits that you expect will be important to the client and paint a picture of what’s in it for him/her.
Steve Strauss, business attorney and columnist for Entrepreneur Magazine and USA Today newspaper, recommends that you diplomatically let the client know that you know your proposal is a good one for the organization because you’ve taken the time to verify its usefulness. Don’t immediately fold your tent if the client hesitates or declines.
Instead, ask if there is any additional information you can provide, or some other accommodation you can make to allow him/her to feel comfortable with approving the deal. Show the client that you are prepared to confront and resolve questions and doubts. You might save the sale and even if you don’t, you may be able to position yourself to successfully get another proposal approved when timing and funding are on your side.
Thanks for reading,