Deena, a freelance web designer, came to me last year after losing out on a deal with a big prospect because she let her own cash flow issues get in the way of building rapport.
The deadly discount
Her problems started after a very lean summer. Cash flow had slowed to a trickle and she needed to close a deal quickly. Luckily she came across a hot lead—a fashion design company that wanted to overhaul their website.
Trouble was, the company wasn’t looking to make a decision until the end of the month. To speed things along Deena decided to give the company an incentive by offering a 25% discount if they said yes by the end of the week.
Unfortunately, her strategy backfired. Not only did the company not take her up on the discount, but they ended up going with a different vendor.
The perils of cash flow crunch
When Deena came to me she was in trouble. She had a new opportunity with a growing retail chain that she desperately needed to close, but first she had to figure out what she had done wrong with her fashion prospect and how to avoid repeating the mistake this time around.
In Deena’s case she’d gone wrong in a couple of key ways. Like plenty of entrepreneurs who fall victim to the perils of cash flow crunch, she’d let her need for revenue drive her approach to the prospect. She’d thought a discount might entice them to say yes more quickly, but, to the prospect, it looked like she was more interested in winning on price rather than her ability to meet his needs.
She also failed to understand that most clients are motivated by risk. Her prospect wasn’t concerned with saving a few thousand dollars on a vendor contract, when a hundred times that much money was at risk if their new website failed to attract more traffic.
So what should she have done?
Three keys for closing deals faster
What I shared with Deena were three keys I had learned that would give her the best chance for a quick score with future prospects.
1. Don’t make your own business issues a factor in the client’s decision
- Focus on understanding the client’s needs
2. Expose the client’s pain
- Share stories that demonstrate the risks they face
3. Reframe the problem, provide a fast track solution
- Work to find a win-win solution that reduces client risk and accelerates their schedule
The three keys in action
Deena put the three keys into play when she presented to her new retail prospect. She didn’t try to close them by discounting, but focused on fully understanding their needs. What she discovered was that the retailer wanted to redesign their website to increase traffic around the launch of new product line.
To expose the retailer’s potential loss, she shared what happened to another one of her clients who increased web traffic through a redesign, but failed to generate much interest in a new product. Ramping up the traffic, she’d found, was only half the battle. The client needed to turn that traffic into actual customer interest in the product launch.
Finally, Deena turned her learnings into a proposal for a new win-win solution. She suggested that the retailer stop thinking about their project purely in terms of a website redesign and instead focus on generating leads from site visitors likely to be interested in the new products. She had all kinds of ideas for videos and content to be posted before the launch, things that visitors could access in exchange for their email addresses. The client would collect good leads, but they’d need to get started right away.
The Last Word
The qualified lead generation idea got the retailer excited and Deena closed the deal three weeks ahead of the initial schedule. Over the next few months she landed more deals, more quickly than ever before—all because she kept her own business out of the sales process, focused on the client’s real pain, and reframed the solution as a win-win for both of them.