Imagine buying a plot of land on which to build your dream house.
Imagine hiring an architect to turn your dream house vision into a working design and detailed set of blueprints.
Imagine spending hours with the architect going over each and every detail of the design making sure that it accurately reflects your vision.
Imagine hiring contractors and artisans to transform your dream house design into a reality.
Imagine hiring an interior designer to create a most magnificent interior and obtain unique accents for your dream house.
Now imagine the construction crew beginning to dig the footers for the foundation and discovering that four feet below the surface of your plot of land lies a boggy substrate that would neither support the foundation nor the infrastructure for your dream house.
Hopes and dreams (not to mention time, energy, and money) vanish in an instant.
Of course, that would never have happened.
Because you would not have purchased the land without first performing your due diligence (such as examining the survey and structural analysis reports) and determining the parcel to be suitable for the intended use. If the particular piece of land was unsuitable for your dream house, you would have searched elsewhere for a more suitable parcel on which to build.
And, you wouldn’t have engaged an architect until you had secured an appropriate spot. After all,it wouldn’t make sense to invest time and money developing plans for your dream house if you have nowhere to build it.
The same strategy holds true for developing “dream” sales.
Until you’ve completed your due diligence—stringently qualify the opportunity—and you know you’re on solid ground, you shouldn’t be working on “blueprints”—proposals and presentations.
So, how do you stringently qualify an opportunity and make sure you’re on firm footing?
First and foremost, you must thoroughly understand your prospects’ situations—the challenges they are facing, the problems they are attempting to solve, and the goals they desire to achieve. Additionally, you must be able to view those situations from the prospects’ points of view—rather than through the lens of any preconceived ideas you may have. And that means doing a lot of “asking” before you do any “telling.” Until you fully understand the outcomes prospects are after (and the events that precipitated the desire for those outcomes), you’re not yet on solid ground.
Once you have a complete picture of your prospects’ situations, you must decide if you can deliver best-fit solutions for their needs. “Best fit” not only from your perspective, but from their perspectives as well.
To determine if you can earn best-fit status, you’ll need to know the expectations and priority prospects assign to all of the various aspects of the sale—initial investment, total cost, delivery, implementation, service, and so on.
If, for example, you can deliver what you believe to be a best-fit solution for the amount of money the prospect is willing to invest, but the implementation time (which is extremely important to the prospect) lies outside the window the prospect has set, your solution is not a best fit. And regardless of how detailed a set of “blueprints” you submit, your sale will never get built.
Whether you’re building a house or a sale, you’ll need solid ground on which to build it. If the base is unstable, it’s only a matter of time before the structure collapses. So, before you begin working on “blueprints” (presentations and proposals), dig around in the dirt for a bit and make sure you’re not standing in a swamp.