Breakthrough Selling with Joe McGonigal
Early in my career, I worked with a colleague who had a simple classification system for new prospects. I believe it will help you better evaluate and approach opportunities.
After virtually every call we went on together, my colleague would place the prospect into one of two buckets: small thinker, or big thinker. Small thinkers are unwilling or unable to see the big picture. It’s a mindset issue. They aren’t interested in exploring possibilities. They are typically close-minded, focused on price, only interested in minimum requirements, easy fixes and low friction. They underinvest and see the buying process as a transaction.
Big thinkers are at the other end of the spectrum. When they have a problem, they’re curious to hear what you think. They want to know how other people are approaching the same issue and they invest the time to develop a comprehensive strategy. They aren’t interested in Band-Aids. They want a partner, not a transaction.
When faced with small thinkers, salespeople run into a few problems.
- You propose too much too fast. — Their film processor broke and they want a new one. You think this is crazy and come back with a proposal for $40K in digital radiography. Digital might be ideal, but you’re going to scare small thinkers off by proposing it this way. They perceive you as overselling or trying to inflate the order.
- You get reduced to price. — In the same scenario, you realize early on that they have no intention of considering digital so you send them a quote for a processor, they shop it and find someone who is cheaper and you either lose the order or reduce your price to win it (which is also a loss).
- You write them off too early. — Also known as giving up. Here’s why people struggle with small thinkers. To help them see that options exist, you ask questions or make statements that judge, undermine and criticize their thinking. You say things like: “Doctor, it doesn’t make sense to replace the processor.” “Why wouldn’t you consider digital at this point.” “You’re throwing good money after bad.”
These aren’t exactly statements that build trust, and they don’t do anything to alter a small-thinking mindset.
Before you start listing features and benefits or churning out proposals, take a step back. Focus on getting clients to think bigger first. If you can open them up to consider more possibilities, you’ll have better success discussing options, developing alternative solutions, and creating value along the way.
How do you do that? As with most things in sales (and life), it comes down to asking better questions: • Every decision comes with some downside or risk. If you go this route, what are the potential unintended consequences we should consider?
- Does this option place any limitations on your business in the next 3-5 years that you might want to avoid?
- Have you considered any other ways to address this problem? If not, would it be helpful to do so?
- I’ve seen this problem dealt with in a few ways you haven’t mentioned. I’d like to make sure we’re considering all possible options at this point. Would that be ok?
These are just a few. The point is, unless you can get small thinkers to think bigger, you’ll continue spinning your wheels. Success with small thinkers starts with selling them on the idea of greater possibilities or a better future first. Not everyone you meet will be a big thinker and that’s OK.
That’s one reason sales people in today’s environment need to develop a wider range of skills — and helping some clients to expand their mindset is one of them.
MENTOR January 2017;8(1):5.