The Three-Step Process during the First Meeting
The seller must take charge immediately to establish rules with the buyer. This is the equivalent to an ‘upfront contract’ which answers the questions “Why are we here?” and “What are we trying to establish?”
The three steps are:
Step 1. Get permission from the buyer to ask questions.
“I will need to ask you questions; will that be okay?” We expect a “yes.” If, however, the answer is “no”, ask “When would be a better time?”
Step 2. Give the buyer permission to ask you questions.
Say “I expect you will have some questions, as well, and I want you to feel free to ask me anything you would like to know.”
Step 3. Gently inform the customer that you expect him/her to make a decision at the end as to whether s/he wants to stop or continue.
The responses we want to hear:
the best answer is “yes”
the second best answer is “no”
the worst possible answer is some form of "I'll think it over" (TIO).
This way suspects get sorted out from prospects and selling efficiency improves.
The best way to prevent TIO’s is by using step 3 at the beginning of the sales meeting. If the suspect knows and is willing to tell you if they can make a decision today - either way- as to whether it’s over or whether they want to go further in the interaction.
“When we finish talking, will you know at that point whether or not you will want to move forward or stop?” If the response is “yes” you have a clear upfront contract.
If the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” then you will want to ask what would be required in order for them to know. In essence they are indicating that they have an objection to continuing. Never proceed in the sales meeting until the rules for that meeting are clear and agreed upon.
“In order to find out your needs, I’d like to ask you some questions- would that be okay?” (Step 1)
“And I’m sure you (will) have some questions that you’d like to ask me, which I want you to feel free to do.” (Step 2)
“I wonder also if, after we have answered each other's questions, you’ll feel comfortable at that point telling me one of two things - whether that you have no interest in my product - which is perfectly acceptable - or that you would like to discuss things further.” (Step 3)