Sometimes your dream client has immediate needs and is ready to place an order before you are through the sales process. It might feel as if you can take the order and forget about your sales process; you’re getting the order, right?
You can—and you should—take the order. But you must also finish the sales process.
You Still Need to Know What You Need to Know
If your dream client needs your help and wants to place an order, by all means take the order. But take the order with the caveat that you will both still commit to completing the process that allows you to really learn what your client needs. Ask for this commitment when accepting the order.
Early in the sales cycle, you may not know what it really takes to help your client produce results. You may not have spent any real time with the decision-makers, the decision-influencers, and the stakeholders. You may not have as firm a grasp on the real outcome they need or the real constraints that prevent them from achieving their goals.
When you take orders and start working without having done some of the work that is embedded in your sales process, you discover what your client needs and the massive constraints the hard way: by failing or producing results that are less than your client really needs.
Commit to helping them with their orders and working together to build a real vision and a solution at the same time. Sometimes, that is what’s necessary.
If You’re Not a Transactional Commodity
If your business is not a simple transactional commodity, you don’t want to act like one. If it is easy for your client to give you orders, it is easy to take them away.
Urgent needs are sometimes urgent because your client’s current provider has failed them. But sometimes the best thing you can do to help a client with an urgent needs is to take their order and at the same time sell them a better buying process.
You can take an order and at the same time gain the commitments you need to help the buying committee within your new client to work through what it will really take to provide them with what they need. You can help them understand their own needs, understand their own constraints and challenges, as well as helping them understand what is really available to them as options to produce the results (it may not be what they think).
By working through the process, you can still make a consultative sell, and you can still focus on developing a consensus around the value you create and away from pure pricing.
Skipping the sales process means you aren’t creating value; it means you are behaving like a commodity.
Creating a Win-Win Deal
Normally, when you take orders before going through the process, a price is given based on very little information—and then you discover what it really needed and how it will really need to be priced.
Or sometimes, as you begin serving your client, the mission changes. You discover that your client needs something more or that it would take something else, a different service, or a different process, to produce the result they need.
Because there wasn’t any real value creation, and because a price was already given, the negotiation stage of the sales process was also missed. You were given information; you gave a price. Now that you have discovered what needs to be done by doing it, you have to go back and ask for a higher price. That’s not always easy to do. But it is required for a win-win agreement.
If you haven’t priced your offering correctly, then you don’t have a win-win deal.
If you take an early order, it’s better to offer provisional pricing while you work through the rest of the sales process. It’s easier to have these discussions when you have set the expectation that the pricing will change early on, and when you have linked your taking the orders to the commitment to work through the rest of your sales process.
What risks do you take by taking orders before you know enough to be able to really provide the outcome?
What are the problems with pricing your product, service, or solutions before you really know to what you are committing?
How do you obtain the commitments you need to complete the sales process after you accept an order?