It can get tricky working a deal when you are educating a prospective customer. You have knowledge and they are seeking information to make an informed decision. Thus, there is a phase of trust building that takes place before a deal is even entertained.
However, it is also a delicate time depending on who you are dealing with. Trust has to go both ways. In our present age, there are a lot of people out there with an entitlement mentality. They have the belief that you should provide everything for free or educate them for their benefit alone, regardless of any benefit back to you as the seller.
I don’t think there is necessarily a formula for how you should conduct yourself as a seller, but there is a good way to do business which helps buffer the value on the table between both parties. It is important to get commitment of some kind at each step of the sales process from the buyer that would create some measure of vestment. Here are some high level ways to approach the selling process that I have found to be useful:
- Give value first. I like to provide value first. Help people with their problems. I use this blog, books and my knowledge to help people look at their problems differently and consider solving them with approaches they may not have considered or understood. This forces me to grow as well as share what I know.
- Ask for commitment. If you end up in a second, third or multiple series of meetings after providing time in an initial meeting, your time can get abused quickly. Ask the buyer what they are committing to. If they get answers to what they are looking for, ask if they are serious about moving forward with you. The question can be asked to varying degrees. It’s important to assess motives and whether you are merely being led along without benefit or if they are serious about buying. Otherwise, you are just in the free education business or merely providing information to get comparison shopped.
- Lead. Ultimately, your sales process is your defined process. Articulate how you do business and define clearly what your next steps are. Ultimately, a proposal, invoice or agreement needs to be presented. Let the buyer know your process and ensure they are committed to walking this process with you. It makes it clear for everyone.
When you are dealing with strangers, it can be very difficult to assess what the motives are. There is that balance between being generous and being abused. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to navigate these paths skillfully with savvy and clarity.
Get a commitment that is concrete and proportional to what your next steps warrant. It protects everyone involved and avoids resentment from either side.
How do you handle your sales process with strangers?