I get asked this question on a regular basis: “How do I create a sense of urgency with my prospect/client?” I wish I had a specific technique that addressed this but I don’t. However, I do think the answer stems from one specific thing: the top priorities of the business. The priorities of the different departments we sell into and the people who manage them tend to change on a regular basis. What don’t tend to change are the top priorities of the business for the coming year.
The CEO sets out a plan for the year which typically focuses on 3-4 specific priorities (revenue growth, operational efficiencies, R&D, etc.). All other initiatives and departmental priorities then fall in line. If we can’t tie our solution to one of these top priorities there is little or no chance of creating a sense of urgency for whoever we’re dealing with. The connection between our solution and their top priorities might not be (and usually isn’t) that obvious but it’s our job to make it. This is why understanding what those priorities are as early as possible in the sales process is absolutely essential. Once we understand them we can then develop and ask questions to uncover the connection and present the solution to the client.
Questioning skills are something we all need to work on and do a better job with. If we ask the right questions we tend to uncover information that we can use to tie to the priorities and create the sense of urgency when it might not have been there before. That said, if the connection to their top priorities truly isn’t there then no amount of questioning is going to help you create a sense of urgency.
The additional benefit to focusing on the client’s top business priorities as early as possible is that it opens up the door to request access to Power if the person you’re dealing with doesn’t have the insight you need.
So, the steps to putting yourself in a position to create urgency are:
- Do your homework prior to the meeting to try and find out the publicly stated top business priorities
- Develop questions specific to finding out what those priorities are or how your solution can align with them
- Make sure you have a reason for your question
- Ask your questions and dig for insight.
- If the insight isn’t good enough ask to be introduced to someone who can give you the insight you need
- Summarize their priorities and how your solution aligns and get confirmation in writing (summary e-mail, mutual action plan, etc)
- Confirm and highlight their priorities and your solutions alignment throughout your communications (update calls, proposals, etc)
Good luck and happy selling. Make it happen!
Every year we work with a researcher to put together the Executive Priorities for eight positions across 10 industries. The 2017 Executive Priorities is 53 pages long and includes data from 91 different sources. This has normally been reserved for my clients, but for the first time ever we are selling the entire collection on it’s own. The 2018 edition can now be preordered.