So there you are, facilitating an awesome meeting with a prospective client. You’re in your zone and things seem to be pointing towards a “YES!”. You can almost see the victory parade back at the office and you are fully prepared to tell your co workers “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” Perhaps even a “No extra charge for awesomeness ladies and gentlemen”.
Just when you are about to bring home the proverbial bacon, the prospect delivers the old “I need to run this by my boss” groin kick. Somehow “Doh!” doesn’t seem like a suitable rebuttal.
Now I’m sure we could have a lengthy discussion about the “Coulda, woulda, shouldas” as far as things on the front end that may or may not have been done, (like getting access to the true decision maker etc) but that doesn’t help us right now if we are knee deep in a situation like this.
What’s an aspiring sales rock star to do?
1) Take a chill: I’ve seen more sales people respond with something that creates a weird “did I just say that out loud” vibe. Be careful not to interrupt your prospect or go into aggressive mode. Patience grasshopper!
2) Recognize this as a potential negotiation tactic. You know, when you’re led to believe that they just need to run it by their boss as a formality. Afterwards, they come back to you with something like “I thought for sure we had a deal but my boss says you need to shave x amount off of this in order for us to go ahead”
3) Look your prospect in the eye(or both if they have two) and ask if they will be recommending you and your company. Watch their non verbal communication when you ask them this direct question. Did they break eye contact, shift body language, speed up their speech. I used to know someone who’s voice went up like 7 octaves when they were BS’ing so add that one to the list too. If your gut tells you “Houston we have a problem”, then ask them “Can you think of anything that would keep this from getting your boss’s seal of approval?” I ask the question this way to help my prospect save face. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with something and their boss becomes the convenient “out”. And should they tell you flat out that they are uncomfortable with something, congrats because you now have something specific to discuss to get this sale back on track! Side note: Let’s stop looking at objections as a bad thing!
4) If they will, in fact recommend you, then ask them “Does your boss usually follow your recommendations?” Kind of hard to say “No” to that question without looking like a tool so let’s assume they give you a hearty “Hell yes!”
5) Use the “Subject To” Close. This is a technique that negotiation expert, Roger Dawson recommends. He suggests saying something along the lines of “Why don’t we go ahead and write up the paperwork ‘subject to’ your boss’s right to reject the proposal within 24 hours”
6) Suggest something along the lines of “Why don’t we talk with your boss together” I like to use this question to test commitment and legitimacy. If you get a “No” then ask what you can do to help. Be prepared to provide additional evidence that could help your prospect sell this internally. Things like a case study, statistics, testimonials, facts etc.
7) Tighten the leash with regard to time: Ask them when they plan on talking with their boss and when you can discuss the decision. If at all possible, try to have that as a “face to face” discussion. If the prospect has a tight deadline for the project, you can remind them of that and actually give them the date you would need to know by in order to honor the deadline.
8) Reassure! If you conducted a thorough needs analysis and you either uncovered pain or opportunity, say something along the lines of “You know (name) I’m a big advocate of ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’ and I want you to know that are several things you and I discussed that make this solution necessary. We’ve both done our due diligence but sooner or later we need to take that first step”
So there you have it, 8 things to do when someone suddenly needs to “Run it by my boss” but remember, you need to take steps on the front end (like getting access to their boss) so things like this are kept to an absolute minimum!
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