Surprises can sometimes be fun, but not when you’re dealing with a prospect or client. Surprises during a meeting, either from the prospect or from you, can be a deal breaker or, at the very least, compromise a positive relationship between you and your prospect. But, there’s a Sandler technique to avoid this pitfall: Up-Front Contracts.
Up-Front Contracts, or UFCs, assure that you and your prospect will understand before each meeting what will take place during that meeting. One of David Sandler’s core rules is “No mutual mystification,” and his method of using UFCs reflects that rule.
Beyond eliminating unpleasant surprises, using a UFC allows the sales professional to maintain control during all phases of the selling process. Control of the selling process is vital to a sales professional’s success. If that control is lost by allowing the client to orchestrate meetings or introduce unexpected elements, it is difficult, if not impossible, to effectively follow the Sandler method and close the sale. If a UFC is established, the sales professional can confidently guide client interactions and keep the sales process on track.
Each Up-Front Contract should include five elements:
- The purpose of the meeting, contact or future action.
- The prospect/client’s agenda for the meeting and his or her expectations of the sales professional before and during the meeting.
- The sales professional’s agenda for the meeting, and his or her expectations of the prospect before and during the meeting.
- The date, location and duration of the meeting.
- The expected outcome of the meeting or interaction.
It’s important to make sure that the prospect understands and agrees to all the terms of the UFC prior to the meeting. So, when the sales professional is talking to the prospect to schedule a meeting, the sales professional should be sure to review the contract with the prospect before hanging up the phone or leaving the office.
And what if the UFC is breached by the prospect? The sales professional must, at that point, determine why the prospect reneged on the original agreement, and decide whether to continue with the meeting under the new conditions, reschedule the meeting with a new Up-Front Contract, or end the relationship with the prospect.
The Up-Front Contract is a crucial element in using the Sandler Selling System. Making a contract, and sticking to it, gives the sales professional the ability to control the selling process and focus on the specific needs of the prospect. With an Up-Front Contract for each and every meeting or interaction, sales professionals can take the element of surprise out of the selling process.
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