When All Else Fails, Become a Consultant

Problem: Have you ever run into a prospect that just doesn’t “get it”? You’ve done your job well. They’ve convinced you they have a problem that they really want to fix, you’ve determined that you’re in front of the person who can make the decision, and you found out that they have the financial resources to fix the problem. You’ve presented a solution that works perfectly and satisfies all the issues that they expressed. But, in spite of all that, they have decided to go with a competitor who has a less effective solution, perhaps one that really is a bad choice for them. Every bone in your body wants to tell them that they are screwing up, but you just don’t know how to say it? So you walk away confused and dejected.

Analysis: Sometimes prospects may be confused about how to make a selection or may have been promised some unrealistic things by a competitor. Whatever the reason, they don’t always make the right decisions.

Prescription: When you know with 100% conviction that the prospect is making a real mistake, you owe it to them to be honest and tell them. But to do it graciously without coming across as a rejected suitor is difficult. Here’s a way to pull it off, but remember, you’re no longer selling. You are, instead, becoming a consultant. Simply say this, “Mr. Prospect, I understand and respect your decision to use my competiton, and I’m through selling, so can I tell you something without your getting mad at me?” Typically they’ll give you permission. Continue by saying, “Since I’m no longer selling, can I offer some advice? (Pause) You’re making a big mistake. With all due respect to my competition, the solution you’ve chosen is flawed. Here’s why.”

This tactic is not to be used to vent your frustrations when you’ve been outsold, only when the prospect is making a mistake and you can substantiate that fact. The key here is to acknowledge that you’re no longer in a sales mode. The competition has won and you’re simply acting as consultant who has their permission to offer advice. After all, consultants point out problems and suggest solutions. It’s a last ditch effort that sometimes pays dividends.