Today I want to talk about upfront contracts not being JUST upfront.
The upfront contract is one of those genius elements of the Sandler Selling System. In the Sandler submarine it's the second step after bonding and rapport, and we typically think of the upfront contract at the beginning of a meeting. I don’t want to take away from the importance of using the UFC here.
Time, purpose, agendas, outcomes…Making sure you all agree to the agenda, the timeframe, what you’re trying to accomplish. This is the fundamental basic stuff within the upfront contract structure. It gives you this process.
But here's what happens…
A lot of people are so focused on the ‘beginning of the meeting’ upfront contract that they forget about the ‘end of the meeting’ upfront contract. My belief is that the ‘end of the meeting’ upfront contract, many times, is as important as the one at the beginning of the meeting.
Since ‘end of meeting’ upfront contracts are not graphically in the submarine, a lot of people miss them.
Think of what can happen. (Especially in Chicago, with the unpredictable weather and potholes)
You have a productive meeting. The meeting ends, and you follow-up in two weeks expecting an answer, and they say, "Oh, we're not ready yet. We thought we'd told you that."
Or, you have a good meeting, and then you say, "Hey, we need some information from you to go to a next step." Then, you don't get the information, because you weren't really clear on what you needed, or what the timeline was.
There's so many things that can get messed up and the longer your selling cycle, the more important ongoing upfront contracts are. How often have you seen it where you're even two or three meetings into it, and then the process just stops. Then there's a conflict because, "Well, I thought you were going to do this." "No, no, I thought you were going to do this."
It becomes this whole cluster that can lead to mutual mystification, and not having a really good progress with accounts, and progress with meetings.
Think about it, how strong are you on your ‘end of the meeting’ upfront contracts? You're probably good at the ones at the ‘beginning of the meeting’, but how strong are you on the ‘end of meeting’ ones? Think of those situations. Whether it's at the end of a first meeting, or before a presentation. Where's that place, later in the process, that you need strong upfront contracts?
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