Sales Psychology 8 Comments

Use This Jedi Mind Trick to Get Prospects to Quantify on Command

Waylon McGill

May 13th, 2016

Jedi Mind Trick Get Prospects to Quantify

At its core, selling is about helping prospects understand whether or not there is a good business case for buying your product and, if so, helping them navigate the buying process. Our focus here will be on the former; helping prospects evaluate the business case for using your product.

There are three steps to this process:

  1. Work with the prospect to uncover the relevant business issues (challenges or opportunities)
  2. Determine the full scope and implications of those issues
  3. Quantify the collective impact of those issues and implications in monetary terms

 What I’d like to focus on today is 3;

How to get prospects to quantify their business issues in monetary terms.

The Challenge

For the purposes of this piece, let’s say that you’re doing discovery together with the client and that you’re doing a great job of pulling out all the implications of their challenges. How do you get them to quantify in monetary terms? The obvious answer is to just ask them.

Unfortunately, prospects usually give vague or otherwise unhelpful responses like “I have no idea” or “a lot.” Resist the urge to believe that they actually have no idea, or that they may be trying to stonewall you. If they don’t know the answer off the top of their head, this is the type of response you will usually get.

Consider this, how often do you ask a question and the prospect responds, “Great question, I hadn’t really thought about that. Why don’t you give me a minute to think about it.” Probably not often.

My team tells me that less than 25% of our prospects are able to quantify things as straightforward as how much time they spend on a typical task a week or how much of their work goes unbilled (our target market is lawyers who live and die by their billable hours).

The natural follow-up is to ask the prospect to estimate or ballpark it. This will get you a slight bump in your response rate, but my team’s experience is that the bump is small and most people will respond with another vague response. Pressing beyond that point is likely to turn the prospect off.

The Solution

The solution is simple and remarkably effective. When you’re trying to get a prospect to quantify something and they say “I don’t know,” give them two options that cover the typical range for that particular challenge.

Here’s what it should look like:

You: What percentage of prospects do you think never respond to your cold outreach?

Prospect: Oh, I have no idea.

You: Ok, do you think it’s like 25% or is it more like 75%?

Prospect: Definitely more like 75%. Probably higher.

You will be amazed at how often this one little nudge will get the prospect to stop and really consider your question, and then quantify it for you. It’s incredible.

My team has gone from having less than 25% of our prospects quantifying critical challenges that we can solve for to well over 80%.

Ironically, the numbers people give us are often precise and outside of the range that we offered. Many times they think aloud and walk us through their thought process so we have the added advantage of understanding how they arrived at the number.

The Impact

If you’re running an SDR team consider the value this can add to the quality of the leads you convert. Imagine if 80-90% of the leads you passed over to your AE teams had detailed notes that included quantifiable costs associated with the various business issues. Numbers that the prospect themselves provided.

If you’re an Account Executive, imagine how much more compelling your business cases would be if you always had hard ROI numbers based on the customer’s own projections and estimates.

Imagine if your champions inside target accounts had these numbers when they needed to make a business case to finance for money.

Quantifiable business challenges are hugely valuable when it comes to closing the sale. Everything sounds well and good until the prospect needs to sign that contract or put in their credit card. It’s a normal psychological response to the “pain” of paying for things. Sometimes it makes prospects do irrational things like deciding at the last minute that they aren’t sure if they should invest $1,000 to generate a near-certain $2,000 return.

In situations like this, if you’ve done a good job of getting the prospect to quantify their challenges and the benefits of your solutions you can just remind the prospect of the numbers.

Prospect: Ok, you know what, why don’t you leave the contract with me and I’ll think about it.

You: I can definitely do that. But let me ask you, you mentioned that every week that you don’t have a solution in place you’re losing out on tens of thousands of dollars in sales pipeline. Why would you want to wait?

It’s a very direct question, but if asked right, it will frequently inspire a prospect to get over their last minute jitters and get a solution in place that is likely to provide a great return for them.

Caution

Sounding conversational is always important when selling, but never more so than when you’re really digging in and trying to get prospects to quantify things for you. When we first started placing more emphasis on coming out of qualification calls with quantifiable challenges we had some SDRs turn into sales robots.

You don’t want to sound like a sales robot building out the logic of a business case. “What challenges are you facing?” then, “Could you quantify that for me?” It’s not that you can never ask those questions, but it’s best to leave sales lingo out of your selling vocabulary.

Use normal everyday language that you would use if discussing a friends business with them. If it sounds like an interrogation you will lose the prospects trust and they will think that you’re trying to get these numbers so that you can use them against them.

About the author

Waylon McGill

Waylon is the Sales Development Manager at Clio, a high-growth SaaS company focused on the legal vertical. He is passionate about people, technology, learning, sales, and self-improvement. Connect with him on Twitter @waylonmcgill

  • Taylor Thompson

    Love it Waylon – I also use the Sandler method of: “What would your gut say?” – then mute the phone for some fun, awkward silence. Keep up the awesome content!

    • Waylon McGill

      Thanks, Taylor. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

  • Really love the suggestions, I’ll be using this on my next call. Question though, what do you do if your prospect sees the game you’re playing and low balls all the quantifiable metrics so they can use that as leverage in a negotiation? For example, “we’re not losing a lot of time with unqualified developer interviews right now because we have a low volume of candidates. Maybe 1 to 2 hours per week. So HackerRank seems like a nice to have but not a need to have.”

    • Waylon McGill

      Good question, @TaylorEricScott:disqus. My first comment would be that you aren’t really playing a game, you’re trying to understand, and help your prospect understand if there is potentially a good business case for buying your product.

      If you do come up against a prospect that wants to play games and views the process of discovery as a negotiation one option is to take what they are saying at face value and suggest that based on their current situation it probably doesn’t make sense to explore your solution further.

      One of two things will happen most of the time:

      1) They agree with you and go away because they were being honest and there really isn’t a good fit between you and them. This is a win for you because you get to focus on someone that actually has a challenge worth paying to solve.

      2) They will indicate that they do want to continue to explore your solution and then you get them to explain why. If they can’t do this, or won’t do this, then you cut your losses and say you need to focus on working with people that you can help.

  • Shane Farmer

    Great work Waylon! Very concise and practical advice 🙂 Quantification is at the core of true buyer justification 🙂

    • Waylon McGill

      Thanks Shane! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Donald C. Kelly

    Very helpful stuff brother. I love the simple steps we can all implement no matter the industry. Thanks again.

    • Waylon McGill

      Thanks, Donald! It means a lot coming from you! Keep up the great work on the Sales Evangelist Podcast!

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