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13. Make a business case to persuade prospect to hire you. One consulting firm I worked with guaranteed clients a tenfold return on their fees. Show client how much they can save or earn by hiring you. Show client risks of doing nothing, compared to benefits of hiring you.
14. Invite questions, and answer them professionally, without getting defensive. Don't argue with client about question or concern. Tell them their point is a good one, and answer by providing truth. Prospects will ALWAYS ask questions, sometimes to object but more often just because they are making a big decision and want to be completely sure that they are making right choice. They may need you to repeat a point they didn't understand earlier, or they may simply need to hear what you had to say again for reassurance.
15. Show prospect that you are completely committed to his or her success, and that you really want to be hired. Create a sense of team by explaining what "we" can do together. Listen closely. Empathize. Give examples of others you have helped. Tell prospect that you want to work with him or her. Your enthusiasm might be infectious.
16. Don't use fancy sales closing techniques. Any sales training course you take (except mine) teach gimmicky formulas like "double reverse close" or "ABC three-step close." Your clients are too savvy for this garbage. If you use these techniques, they will immediately recognize you as an inauthentic, untrustworthy hawker of questionable services and products. Instead, let prospect make up his or her own mind about what to do. For instance, don't ask client, "When should we start?" or "As you can see, I can solve your problem; just sign this contract." Instead, put decision in their hands by saying, "From information I've provided, I sincerely hope that you understand importance of acting now."
17. Don't accept a sale unless you can deliver, want to do work, and work will advance your business. Closing a bad deal for sake of a deal is a recipe for disaster. I worked with a client who won a contract with a major metropolitan county health system. My client knew that county was highly political, and that project would stretch every resource he had in his small firm. But he was blinded by size of contract. Within three months, county made client scapegoat for all of their problems, and his firm's name was posted in all local papers. Six months later, he had to lay off half his staff because he had no work. Be willing to say "no."
18. Follow up. If prospect hires you, thank him or her and provide reassurance that they made an excellent decision. Send a thank you note soon after. If prospect doesn't hire you, politely remind him or her of potential costs of not moving forward quickly, suggest rapid action, and let him or her know that you are always available for additional questions or advice.
Andrew Neitlich is the Senior Editor of The IT Accelerator, the newsletter that helps information technology professionals and consultants to attract more clients and projects. Subscribe at www.itprosuccess.com.