If your consulting firm’s proposals take much longer to close than they should (or never close at all), a couple of techniques will dramatically reduce your post-proposal wait time.
When Buddy Badideya, CEO of Bridecycle reached out to your consulting firm a couple of months ago, he seemed extremely interested in engaging you.
Bridecycle’s “Wedding on Wheels” campaign had inexplicably fallen flat, and Buddy thought your consulting firm could steer his company in a better direction.
Now, though, weeks after you submitted your proposal, Buddy is ghosting you. You’ve emailed, called, texted, reached out via LinkedIn. Silence. No reply. No rejection. Nothing.
Why? What happened?
Buddy isn’t pumped up about your project. He isn’t feeling any urgent desire to move forward with your proposal.
Dormant proposals indicate a lack of Want. In most cases, you’re not surfacing the burning, emotional driver that overcomes a prospect’s natural resistance to hiring your consulting firm.
For many consultants—particularly those of us who are logic-oriented, data-and-measurement geeks, uncovering the soft benefits of a project isn’t easy or natural.
Fortunately, if you employ the two techniques below during your discovery process (a.k.a. the Context Discussion) with every prospect, you’ll be awash in emotional information. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll be sappier than The Bachelorette.
Technique #1: Push Back
Politely offer resistance throughout the Context Discussion. It sounds like this:
“I hear this is important, but is it really? Bridecycle must have much bigger hills to climb.” Or,
“I get that the latest campaign derailed your revenue projections, but why don’t you straighten out your course on your own?” Or,
“Okay, but what’s the impact if you don’t do this?”
Then Buddy says, “If we don’t get back on track ASAP, the Board’s going to crucify me.” Bingo! Buddy’s anxiety is now clear. You could even force the issue again:
“Really? What’s the worst that the Board could do?”
When you question your prospect’s rationale, the emotional drivers start to bubble up. More logical skepticism from you leads to more emotional justification from your prospects.
Technique #2: Ask a Routine, Personal Question
During the Value section of the Context Discussion, after you have walked through the questions that surface the rational value of the project (which may be quantitative, subjective or both), ask the following question:
“What’s the value of this project to you, personally?” and/or
“How will this benefit you personally?”
Yikes! Aren’t those deep personal questions that could feel intrusive? Don’t you need to have established a strong, trusting relationship before digging into your prospect’s heartfelt desires?
You can ask a prospect any question about anything as long as your question appears relevant and routine.
If you’re uncomfortable asking a question, or if your question appears to be spontaneous, inappropriate probing, Buddy will hit the brakes on emotional sharing.
Conversely, when your question is obviously a routine part of your standard discovery process, the barriers fall away.
Standardized processes feel bounded, contained and safe. Consulting prospects who experience you asking sincere questions as part of a robust, purposeful approach, will answer with extraordinary candor.
Do you uncover the emotional drivers that close projects faster?
If so, what has worked for you? If not, any thoughts on what’s in the way?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.