This month we’re talking about Sales Enablement, but I’d like to change gears and bring up a different subject, so here goes.

This has happened to me more times than I’d like to admit. I’d meet someone new and we’d seem to click. Our talk would quickly escalate to more intimate levels. We’d share our fears and laugh at each other’s jokes. Everything is going fine until I suggest we commit to each other. Well, you know how that goes! The other person’s eyes glaze over while they search for excuses and ways to distance themselves.

Was I rushing into things too quickly? Or are they in a relationship with someone else?

I thought we were done, but boy was I wrong. I’d get calls from them asking how I was, and if maybe we could meet for lunch. At the time I wasn’t thinking that they only wanted to meet me for lunch because they knew I’d pay. After a while I got suspicious. Every time I brought up anything with the word “commitment” in it they found an excuse or changed the subject. Finally, I’d had enough! I broached the subject on one of our outings and they fired back, “I don’t see us being together. But I do think we make great friends.”

After all the lunches, phone calls, golf dates, and even a baseball game, I was put into the “Friend Zone!” And the worst part was that I had wasted a lot of time that I could have invested in meeting other people. And now I had to tell my manager that I didn’t make the sale, again. It’s bad enough when you get friend-zoned trying to date someone, but it’s just as painful when you get friend-zoned in the professional world. It’s a crush to both your ego and your pocketbook.

What I’ve learned from these experiences is that you need to either close the deal right away or close the door to someone who won’t commit. You can always follow-up at a later date, but it’s important not to waste your time trying to close a deal with someone unwilling to make decisions.

“If you spend too much time trying to build a relationship with somebody, just to get their money – what kind of a relationship is that?”

Alex Rogers, CEO of CharTec and one of the country’s top sales trainers says; “If you spend too much time trying to build a relationship with somebody, just to get their money – what kind of a relationship is that?” Rogers explains that you become someone who the prospect wants to hang out with, maybe play a round of golf with, but not someone who is ready to become a customer of yours. And he’s right!

Rogers then goes on to say that the reason the friend-zone situation gets out of hand is that we’re not staying focused on business, and we’re forgetting about key steps to closing deals: The Five Prerequisites of a Sale. For those of you who have not learned these steps yet, and for those who need a refresher, here they are:

  1. Identify Needs.

In today’s market, you need to identify as many needs as you possibly can. During your discovery, it’s important to find out which influencers need which features in your offering. The more over-all needs you discover, and the more influencers you can connect those needs to, the better you can create an enticing “perceived value” of your offering. Find those all-important pain points, and then show them how you can take all of their pain away.

  1. Create a Solution.

The key to creating a viable solution for your prospect is directly related to the Needs you have hopefully identified. Many sales have been lost because the salesperson offered more solutions than the prospects needed. Understand that your solution has to be an exact match to their needs. And stay focused on the word “Need.” Prospects will tell you about their problems all day, but it’s your job to dig deeper, below the problems, into that thing they need, and then come up with a solution for that need.

  1. Give them enough Value to justify the Cost.

The Value of your offering must ALWAYS outweigh the Cost of your offering. At the end of your presentation, you’ll hear some form of this: “But that’s so much more than we’re paying now.” If you haven’t heard that you probably haven’t been selling Managed Services very long. And if you have heard it, you’ll be prepared to answer any objections to cost. You’ll be able to more than justify that objection by offering more than enough solutions to their needs.

  1. Create a sense of Urgency.

A high percentage of the deals that do not close in the Managed Services industry is because the prospect not only chose not to go with you, but they decided to go with no one. Somewhere during your presentation, they decided to stay status-quo and self-manage the issues that brought them to you in the first place. And the number one reason why this happens is that you’ve failed to create that sense of urgency, therefore they didn’t feel that they needed your help. If they’d rather continue down a road of inefficiency than work with you then you haven’t identified any urgency connected to their needs. Work hard to tie a sense of urgency to at least one Need to every Influencer you’re presenting to.

  1. Meet with the person who has the Authority to Buy.

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that only the Owner or CEO is the one with the Authority to Buy. Yes, they may sign the checks and approve the deals, but they may not always be the ones who make the big decisions. Do your research during the discovery phase, or during the presentation, you might hear, “I need to talk to my people.” If you ever hear that you’ll be scrambling to set up another meeting with them and their people, and there’s a very good chance they’ll meet without you before that happens. You need to be in the room to help them make the best decision, that they should go with you. Do your research and make sure everyone who needs to be in your presentation is there when you are there.

Sales Training is as much of Sales Enablement as anything else. Follow these steps, and don’t let a prospect string you along if they’re not ready to buy. You can always become friends with someone after they sign on. But don’t spend too much time with someone who isn’t ready to commit. The bottom line is, you can’t close a deal if you can’t get out of the friend zone.