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Are You Mistaking Engagement for Advances?

In my workshops I have discovered that there are a number of interactions with a possible client that are generally positive but do not technically qualify as advances because they don’t represent commitment, or they lack the sufficient energy required to be considered advances.  Workshop attendees often get tripped up by these.

To help protect you from this pitfall it’s important to understand the difference between an Advance and what I deem Engagement.  Or, to differentiate it with the same term as used in marketing — Sales Engagement.

Sales Engagement – Interest that does not involve obligation.

Interest Without Obligation

This practical definition gives us a useful way to differentiate between an advance and what is simply curiosity or interest on behalf of a client.  An Advance involves a commitment or obligation of some kind, yet there are many interactions with clients that don’t involve commitments or obligations, but do demonstrate genuine curiosity and interest.

One way to approach engagement versus an advance is to consider them on a priority scale, where on one end engagement represents items that are of interest but not yet enough of a priority to invest time and energy, while on the other end of the spectrum you have advances which are of high enough priority to take action on.

Obligation Continuum

This helps to gauge:

  1. The prospective client’s level of commitment.
  2. The best possible advance to suggest at this moment in time.

This allows you to make the best use of both the prospect’s time as well as your own.

The trap I repeatedly see professionals fall into is wasting huge amounts of time on prospective business that will never close because they have misjudged curiosity and interest (and sometimes simple politeness) as indicators of good sales opportunities. Curiosity and interest are nice, but we don’t want to make it more than it is — and we certainly don’t want to invest our most valuable resource (time) without a reasonable assurance of a positive outcome.

There is enough confusion on this topic that in the next posts we will delve into the most common forms of Sales Engagement mistaken for Sales Advances.  For now here is a brief listing of the most common culprits:

  • The Prospect Asks You For a Proposal
  • The Prospect Asks Questions Regarding Your Solution or Proposal
  • You Sending the Prospect a Proposal
  • The Prospect Reads or Studies a Copy of Your Presentation or Supporting Material
  • One of Your Prospect’s Personnel Contacts You for Additional Information
  • The Prospect Requests Help in Explaining an Area Related to the Sales to Another Person
  • The Prospect Attends a Webinar or Watches an On-line Demo
  • The Prospect Mentions Another Prospective Client to You

Do any of these surprise you?  Stay tuned for a further discussion of these an other examples of Sale Engagement that are mistaken for Sales Advances.

Understanding the difference between a Sales Advance and Sales Engagement is an important part of continuing momentum in your opportunities. With The Perfect Close you are always going to suggest a Sales Advance. It is important then, that the actions we suggest genuinely progress the opportunity and move the client toward their goal.  Misinterpreting interest that does not involve obligation – or even worse suggesting these actions – will limit your effectiveness and cause you to invest your time on the wrong opportunities.

Closing Tip:  Know the difference between Sales Engagement and a Sales Advance.

Until next time!


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