Consulting is a personal buying decision. The service is rather intangible and difficult to quantify. Establishing personal relationships, especially trust, can make the difference between success and failure.
By addressing the key qualification criteria, there is less chance of surprise decisions or no decisions at all. Where there is a clear client need, (see opportunity qualification), the chances of a buy decision are that much higher.
Where a clear business case can be established and the client can identify and relate to business benefits, the call is that much easier.
When time runs out, poor quality decisions can be made. On the other hand, a sense of urgency improves the focus of the client regarding decision making.
Knowing where you are in the sales cycle helps determine the most appropriate activity at the time.
Improving your chances of closure success
There are a number of ways of improving your chances of closing a sale.
Presentation in addition to the proposal
Objectives of the presentation
- This allows for clarification / enhancement of the proposal.
- A presentation allows the consultancy to handle concerns face to face.
- A physical Interaction exposes the project team to the client and may be the ultimate differentiator.
- It allows the consultancy to demonstrate competence (or the opposite).
- Beating / protecting a preferential or “wired” situation.
- You may be able to close the sale on the spot.
Whether to make a presentation
- Opportunity – will you get the chance to present?
- Desirability – is it advisable to present under the circumstances?
A presentation is generally desirable, as it enables personal contact. Nuances which were otherwise not visible may become apparent. The timing of a presentation is crucial. An early presentation may allow for some last minute tweaking of the approach. It may be possible to pick up overt and covert objectives and to detect wired situations, where there is simply no chance of getting the business.
When to make a presentation
- Before the submission (of the proposal).
- With the submission.
- After the submission.
Whom to present to
Which buying roles should you present to? Influencer, decider, payer, implementer.
- The ultimate buyer.
- A selection committee.
- Senior management.
What to say at the presentation?
- Approach, expertise, everything in the proposal.
- Highlight features and benefits only.
How to present (style)
Presentation style has a major influence on the reception it receives but what works for one client may not work for the next. It is also important to understand the personality types of the audience in order to determine the most effective style. By using different presenters, you have the opportunity to mix presentation styles and appeal to a broader audience.
Who should go to the presentation/ attend
This is all about showing commitment and matching to the client.
- Company executives
- Service line managers
- Other assignment participants
Efforts by Others (Lobbying)
Efforts by third party advocates / references
- Within client organisation – can you find an advocate/influencer
- Outside client organisation – a trusted referral
Can someone outside the bid team do something to assist the sale?
Exerting influence (from within the firm)
This is especially important in multi-disciplinary firms where there are multiple relationships.
- Political / ownership of client / opportunity
- Senior managerial
- Other company representatives
By exerting influence with integrity, or by bringing in more senior representatives, you may get the business by showing more commitment as a firm, or getting senior decision makers attention.
Exercise: Hibbit Case Study – Key Closing Considerations
Refer to the Hibbit case study again and determine what the consultant should be considering when trying to close this deal.
What sales related activities would you consider at this stage? Note these for yourself