In this first in a series of 7 posts, I offer you an alternative approach to getting the clients you really want for your business. It’s an alternative seven-stage approach to them saying ‘yes’ to you heartily, eagerly and joyfully. The seven stages become relevant after you have attracted them to considering doing business with you by deploying Cialdini’s six ‘Weapons of Influence’ Influence’ which were covered in an earlier series of posts. They are considering buying from you, and so you now have the opportunity for them to say ‘yes’ to you and your business. Use the ALIGNED framework:
A Assume control
L Learn their situation and desires
I Injuries and pains
G Get commitment
N Nirvana – their Well-Formed Outcome
E Elegant Solutions
D Decide or Die
In this series of posts, I will go through each step in turn, starting with Assume Control. The prospective client has indicated that they want you to provide a solution, be it in the form of a product, a service or a combination of the two. They have an identified need, quite possibly a problem, that is causing them pain, and they want a professional to resolve it for them. They expect you to assume control, to take charge and to demonstrate authority and competence.
So assume control and tell them the process that your interaction with them will follow. Explain that you wish to fully understand what they want and their current situation. Tell them it is only when you reach a full understanding that you will be able to tell them whether you can help – and mean it! Do not have a pre-prepared solution in mind that you are looking to persuade them to buy from you. Congruence is all!
The quality of your listening needs to be outstandingly high. The quality of your listening will affect the quality of their thinking. It is quite often the case that they have not fully thought through their situation, and quality listening from you will help them do so.
Be prepared to not make the sale if your solution is not the perfect fit for them. You will not regret it. You want your customers to be delighted, not merely satisfied. Only delighted customers can become your fan club. Tell them that you will only work with them if you have a solution or solutions that are perfect for them. Tell them that you will not do business with them unless you can provide what is best for them (and mean it!). Tell them that, if there is not a ‘best fit’ you will try to suggest an alternative other than you or your company – so they know the conversation will not be entirely wasted if you don’t do business together, and so they know you care.
This first stage will sound almost like a monologue from you. This is because you are taking control, as expected. While it resembles a monologue, there are two elements that will ease the process and build confidence within your prospective client. First, make it very clear that they have your full attention, using body language. Direct eye contact is key, demonstrating your sincerity, integrity and commitment.
The second element that eases this stage is the words that you use. It is a monologue that you should practise many times to make it perfect. Practise it with a friend or colleague, and record it so you can play it back and learn from it. Your monologue is designed explicitly to outline the process. The implicit messages are just as important, if not more so. You are demonstrating your sincerity, integrity and commitment. Make explicit your commitment to the person receiving the monologue – ‘My commitment to you is ….’ (Mine is ‘My commitment to you is to enable you to be the best you want to be’.) Implicitly demonstrate your commitment to them by focusing your language on them. For every use of the words ‘I’, ‘My’, ‘Mine’ and ‘Our’ (where it refers to your company, not to you and the client), there should be at least one ‘You’, ‘Your’, ‘Yours’.
Implementing the ALIGNED framework in your business requires diligence, determination and a systematic approach. The Congruent Business Development System™ http://bit.ly/1pSMfCH provides the framework you need to implement effective business development to get your business the clients you want saying ‘Yes!’ by making the most of you and the least of sales techniques.
In the next post, I will go through the ‘L’ of ALIGNED.