One of the most common reasons I hear for why advisors didn’t win the sale is because they were more expensive – or couldn’t match – their competitor.
There are two things to be aware of here – first and foremost, is the fact that this is usually what the client says, because they now it’s the easiest one to get away with, and raises the least amount of objections – how can you argue with that right?
The underlying issue though is something else entirely, and something that is within our control.
What the client really means when they say that your competitor beat you on price, or gave them a better deal, is that they didn’t see the value of what you were offering. And the most common denominator in this situation is that the client doesn’t see the value, because the advisor is too busy telling them about the features and functions of their solution, instead of exploring the needs, pains and motivators of the client in depth.
The most common thing my clients ask me for are closing techniques, because they feel that having better closing techniques will help them close more deals. But that’s not what they’re missing. What they’re missing is the ability and experience to make the client see the value that he or she will get out of doing business with you.
What they need is the ability to tell the client what they stand to gain if they choose them as a collaborator. And the reason why that can sometimes feel like an uphill climb, is because the advisor haven’t uncovered what the client really wants or is struggling with, because they haven’t gone deep enough in the discovery phase.
You see, the root cause of many of the ailments that advisors experience is that they don’t thoroughly understand their clients. They might be able to ask what their goal is, or what challenges they’re currently experiencing, but those questions barely scratch the surface.
The best advisors I’ve seen and coached, are the ones who explores the client’s needs on an emotional level.
To illustrate the difference here, let’s examine how most advisors act, and how the best advisors act.
Most advisors who have some experience will start out with five questions along the following lines:
Advisor: “So, what’s on your plate these days?”
Client: “Oh you know, we’re working on different things – but what’s top of mind currently is how we attract the talent we need to grow the business?”
Advisor: “Interesting, and what are some challenges you’re experiencing there?”
Client: “Well, everyone is experiencing capacity problems right now.”
Advisor: “I see – how would you like us to help you?”
Client: “Well if you can get me the talent I need that’s great”
Advisor: “I don’t see why not – who are the stakeholders on this project?”
Client: “Beside me, it’s our CEO, our board and the managers of the respective teams”
Advisor: “Right, and what’s your budget on this one?”
Client: “Oh, I can’t say really, but we definitely have some money to throw at the problem.”
Now if you’re thinking to yourself, that this conversation is off to a great start, and it should be easy to close, you’re not alone. This is how most of the advisors I coach initially operate. incidentally they are also the ones who close in the low single digits of the clients they meet with. And like I said one of the main reasons is that they fail to explore the needs and pains in any depth, and as a result it’s too easy for a competitor to swoop in and provide a similar service on better terms.
Let’s take a look at what some of the best in the business do instead:
Advisor: “So on the phone, you told me that you’re having trouble keeping up with demand, and that you’re losing out on business as a result, because you can’t hire the right people – what’s going on?”
Client: “We’re stretched beyond our limits. It’s all hands on deck and everyone’s working double overtime, to try and keep our customers happy?”
Advisor: “That sounds rough”
Client: “It is – we’re already seeing the first chinks in the armor… We have a handful of people out on stress leave already, and that’s only going to get worse, if we don’t do something.”
Advisor: “What happens if it gets worse?”
Client: “What’ll happen is that we won’t be able to fulfill the orders that we currently have, and some of our clients might leave as a result… We won’t be able to take on new clients either, so our business is going to suffer both short term and long term.”
Advisor: “And what happens then?”
Client: “Well, if we don’t figure out how to make things work, we’ll need to layoff some of our staff – I don’t imagine that’s going to cause any less stress for the ones that remain.”
Advisor: “There is no doubt your employees are going to suffer, and I can’t imagine it’d be easy for you either?”
Client: “No definitely not – even though this is a public company all of the employees are close. Most of us have been in the same boat for many years. I would hate being responsible for any one of these guys having to go and tell their families that they’d have to go and find somewhere else to work – and not all of them are equally employable either you know.”
One thing I want you to notice in the second conversation is that instead of asking a broad and general question, the advisor actively uses the phone call they’ve done before the meeting (as all the best advisors do) as a jumping off point for the conversation, which shoots them directly into the thick of the conversation.
As you can see from the above conversations they are miles apart in terms of the emotional content. And it’s all attributable to the questions that were asked in the beginning.