Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pick Me! Pick Me!

[caption id="attachment_498" align="alignleft" width="186" caption="A Line of Suitors"]A Line of Suitors[/caption]

The NAME ME Qualifying Checklist

“Pick me, Pick me” is a common refrain you might recall from your school days when team captains were tasked with choosing sides for a game of flag football or baseball, or bombardment, a terrifyingly thrilling game played on rainy days in elementary schools across New England.  Some kids in the line shifted uncomfortably with heads down and hands in their pockets, dreading being the last one called.  There were those who verbally pressured the captains, shouting, “Pick, me!  You wanna win don’t you?”  Others just waited their turn, ambivalent about their fate.

It’s not all that different in today’s world of business proposals.  I’ve been on all sides of sales proposals.  I’ve put them together alone and with teams of experts, sometimes “guessing” what the prospect wanted to hear. (Not a good strategy.)  I’ve been shoulder to shoulder with clients, acting as their consultant helping to choose a vendor.  That’s a great perspective to see how pathetic some sales tactics come across.  I’ve seen desperation, trickery, disinterest and unwelcome pressure.  All the kid stuff that gives professional sales a bad name.

When it’s your business, or you care as if it were, your time becomes increasingly more valuable.  You separate the good versus troublesome suppliers and customers fairly quickly.  When you’re a customer looking at a new business relationship, you undoubtedly have a set of criteria that’s important to you.  When you are trying to sell someone on your idea, you want to do the same.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many desperate organizations skip this step.  They never took the time to qualify the serious from the lookyloos.  A fatal flaw when pursuing any relationship.

Inspired by the “Pick Me” cries of yesteryear, I’ve developed the NAME ME Qualifying Checklist you should run all of your prospects and customers through.

N is for Need. Is there a need you can meet?  Hint, if you sell potatoes and your customer is looking for red crayons they have a need you probably cannot meet.

A is for Ability.  Do they have the ability to make a decision?  You may be having a great conversation with someone and they may tell you wonderful things, but unless they have the ability and authority to make a decision on purchasing your goods or services, all you can really count on is a great conversation.  Always talk with the decision maker to get a decision.

M is for Money.  Do they have money to pay for your solution?  People like to shop; nothing wrong with that.  You need to be able to define when someone is browsing and when someone is ready to buy.  If they can’t pay for your solution to their problem or need, continue to be pleasant to them, but move on, regardless of how nice they are to you.  Nice prospects have a way of spending your money by consuming your time.

E is for Enthusiasm.  Do they want a solution to their need?  Lots of people have lots of problems.  Just because you’ve discovered a need doesn’t mean they want to solve it.  It may be an issue of priorities, political pressures, or apathy.  It doesn’t really matter.  If they’re not excited about solving one of their problems, how excited are you going to be working with them?

M is for Match.  Is there a match between you and them?  This is the je ne sais quoi, that certain something.  The rapport or chemistry that signals you both get along and can work together to get your solution or service implemented to solve their problem.

E is for Essential.  Is it essential to get started?  This introduces the element of urgency.  You want to get to work on solving a problem or providing a solution right away.  It’s good for you and them.  Closely related to enthusiasm, if it’s not essential for them, it means delays for you.  Delays for you means delays in growing your business.

Use the NAME ME Qualifying Checklist to honestly assess all the prospects in your pipeline.  (All the people you know who may be interested in doing business with you.)  Making excuses will not help you in the long run.  For example, a prospect may have a need you can solve perfectly; they could be the final decision maker; they could show you a pile of cash, be enthusiastic about all that you offer and have great rapport with you.  So what.  If what you have isn’t essential for them, you lose.  Maybe it’s a temporary delay, but temporary delays have a way of becoming permanent indecisions.  No amount of honorable sales effort changes a buyer’s essential criteria.

Always go five for five.  You can stack rank your four for fives so you remember to pay attention to them.  Keep your three for fives only if there is some compelling reason and you’re able to nurture them along.  Everyone else, send a nice card once in awhile so you stay top of mind - but don’t invest any significant resources on them until they show more interest in you.  Use the NAME ME Qualifying Checklist to ensure your spending your time wisely.

Enjoy a companion video: VIDEO: The NAME ME Qualifying Checklist

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