Corporate buyers want to solve their problems, not yours. As a consultant, your job is to show them how they can use your content to improve their circumstances in some way. For a marketing director this could be increased sales, revenue or profits. An HR manager may seek a better trained, informed or motivated workforce. Focus on minimizing their troubles as a means to solving your own.
How can you discover their problems? Ask questions about their objectives. What do they want to accomplish with a promotional campaign? What went right (or wrong) with their previous promotional campaigns? One question that can elicit that information is, “If you could wave your magic wand, how would you describe the ultimate sales promotion?”
Another way to determine what is really important to the other side is to recognize which issues the other party returns to regularly. If you hear, “We’ve agreed on the customization, but let’s get back to the delivery schedule,” you know that issue is significant. Or, if you sense an emotional response, others becoming or tense or stressed, you can assume that issue is also vital. Say that you recognize its importance and ask that they clarify their concern.
What is the other side most obstinate about when you ask for a concession or compromise? If they refuse to budge on pricing, for example, find out if there is a hidden issue. It may not be the price that is the obstacle, but perhaps it’s the ability to pay. If that is the case, then negotiate a payment schedule.
This is not being manipulative. You are not trying to get your prospects to do something against their better judgment. You are trying to get a better understanding of what the other party really wants, and how you can help them get it. You are also helping your prospects understand what they really want. Asking questions is usually the least threatening way to do that. If you want to change a person's mind, first know where that mind is, where it wants to be and how you can help it get there.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of APSS (www.bookapss.org) - formerly SPAN. He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com twitter.com/bookmarketing