sales tip

Corralling Your Customers to Get Down to Business

The Situation

Bridget is in a position to land a hefty contract with Builtwell Industries. She has a good working relationship with Dave, the company’s purchasing agent. That’s helpful, because Dave will be presenting her proposal to Builtwell’s Procurement Board — they sign off on all big contracts.

What isn’t helpful is Dave’s lack of concentration on the business at hand.  Bridget starts the exchange:

Sales Tip

But Will He?

We can’t blame Bridget if she isn’t assured by Dave’s promise. After all, she’s tried a reflective statement, a closed-end probe, and a summary statement to help focus his attention on accomplishing their business goal.

However, what other Q4 selling tools would be more helpful in managing Dave’s Q3 meandering behavior? How can Bridget use Q4 selling to get Dave on track for presenting her proposal to the Board?

While Bridget has tried to maintain a Q4 businesslike approach, for a prospect with Q3 overly friendly behavior, she might be pushing too hard too quickly. Of course, it’s important to try to rein in a customer’s wandering conversation. But Bridget could be less blunt about her needs (“You must get that proposal ready ….” ) at this point. This kind of language doesn’t move the prospect forward.

Instead, Bridget could state the action step Dave needs to accomplish as a benefit to him. She might say, “Dave, if you can put that proposal in front of the Board on Friday, you’ll be helping your company save money.” Or “This contract will mean less expensive raw materials. Your colleagues in production will have an easier time meeting their budgets, thanks to you.” In both examples, the benefit appeals to Dave’s Q3 personal need to get along well with others.

Another tool Bridget could apply is the First-Person Statement. In short, it makes a personal appeal to help solve a problem: “Dave, I’m concerned that if the proposal isn’t ready by Friday, we won’t have a deal. What can we do to make sure it’s ready?” This doesn’t point the finger at Dave. It appeals to the Q3 personal need of wanting to help.


Consider both approaches when you need to help your prospect focus on the business at hand. For Q3, it can keep your discussion at a favorable comfort level and get positive results.