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What Do You Want Your Customer To Do?

“What do I want my customer to do?” is the second of the Three Magic Pre-call Questions.

The answer to the question “What do I want my client to do?” is the basis of your Call Objective — the advance you want to happen as a result of this encounter. It is the action you want them to take. Each advance will incrementally bring you and your client to an arrangement that benefits you both.

You already understand what an advance is and that it requires both action and energy on behalf of your prospect. Now it’s time to develop a range of possible advances for all of your sales encounters. By doing this, you will have an ideal advance to work toward as your call objective as well as several fall-back advances if your ideal advance proves unrealistic for some reason.

Ideal Advance – the highest level of commitment you can reasonably expect your prospect to make as a result of this encounter.

Ultimately, the ideal advance on any given sales encounter would be to close the business. However that is rarely a reasonable outcome in a complex sales process that involves more than one call. For that reason, we want to think about the highest level of incremental commitment we can realistically achieve. With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into what makes an ideal advance.

There will generally be a number of potential actions that a prospect can take to move the sale forward. We want to make the most of our time and the prospect’s time by facilitating the largest incremental commitment appropriate at this juncture. To do that we need to evaluate our possible advances against each other. Four criteria will make that easier.

Your call objectives should meet four criteria:

  1. They should be specific and measurable.
  2. They should center on the action the prospect will take.
  3. They should move the sale forward.
  4. They should be reasonable from the prospect’s perspective.

Specific and measurable – Just like sales objectives, your call objectives should also be specific and measurable. Call objectives are considerably easier because we can simply look for tangible evidence that the action took place. It is simply an action or commitment made by your prospect. It either happened or it didn’t. Changes in attitude or feeling are challenging to measure. So instead, look for actions that actually demonstrate their change in attitude or feeling. As you brainstorm advances ask yourself, “What actions demonstrate a change (or confirmation) of attitude or feeling?”

Center on the action the prospect will take – Call objectives are about what we want the prospect to do — not what you do. As we brainstorm all the possible advances, remember to focus on actions your prospect could take as a result of your meeting. Ask yourself, “What action could my prospect take to advance the sale forward?”

Move the sale forward – Each advance should incrementally progress the sale toward ultimate completion. Depending on circumstances, there may be many increments or just a few. The key here is that, at the minimum, each action should add some sort of momentum to the sales process. Not all actions taken by the prospect will move the sale forward. Meetings, in and of themselves for example, neither move the sale forward nor backward. They are neutral. What happens as a result of the meeting may advance your sale, but the meeting itself is simply an opportunity.

Be reasonable from the prospect’s perspective – As you brainstorm your potential advances, your list of possible prospect actions should range from simple to almost impossible. I once had a rep suggest that an entire client site attend a national user’s conference. While this was an excellent thought exercise, it was completely impractical for the client to shut down operations for a week so their entire group could attend our user’s conference. Still, once we pared it down to a reasonable scope, this was an excellent suggestion for advancing the sale. In the end, a dozen of their staff attended the conference, and it contributed to garnering a multi-million dollar account.

Sales Flywheel

Complex sales are like a flywheel, and each time we obtain an advance from a prospect the flywheel gains momentum. Some sales require many pushes on the flywheel and others just a few. By brainstorming and planning ahead we can choose the ideal advance for our interaction and have a number of alternative advances just in case our ideal advance proves unrealistic. Each successful advance adds momentum to your sale’s flywheel and brings your client closer to their goal.

Planning is one of the biggest factors in sales success.  Use the four criteria above to brainstorm possible advances for your sales.  Doing so will ensure that each encounter adds momentum to your sales flywheel and moves both you and your client towards success.

Closing Tip:  Brainstorm all the possible advances you might set as objectives for your sales call.

Coming up we will discuss how to answer the third of the Three Magic Pre-call Questions: How can I add value to this encounter?

Until next time!


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