Sales Mistakes Consultants Make: Microwaving the Process

Photo by anneheathen on FlickrOne of the biggest mistakes consultants make during the sales process is moving too fast. In fact, Allison Roberge, an account executive at Sogeti USA, even has a term for it – she calls it “microwaving” the process.

It happens when consultants come up with a “solution” before they know the whole story. It goes like this, Roberge says: you meet with a new client, they have a problem that sounds similar to one you just solved for another client, and boom! – you offer up a regurgitated solution.

In other words, the client says “here is my pain” and you respond immediately with “here is the solution.”

But Roberge recommends slowing down, even if the “pain” you’re hearing about sounds familiar.  Because at this point, you probably don’t know anything about the client, their business, their unique needs, and their specific challenges. And when you offer your solution too soon, you don’t know if the capabilities you’re offering truly match the client’s needs.

Instead, let the process unfold. There needs to be a give and take.

As Roberge has advised in an earlier post, you take an “interviewing” approach. You must ask thoughtful, meaningful questions that elicit useful information (these are often open-ended questions). You need to build a rapport with your client and show you are the trusted resource who can get to the real root of the problem.

And you’re not going to do all that when you zap the process in the microwave.  If you do that, chance are you’ll come off as arrogant and uninformed…because really, you don’t have a full understanding of the problem yet.

If you slow down a little and ask questions, you’ll allow for the possibility of being surprised by something, of learning something you didn’t know before. You might learn some information that makes your ready-made “solution” utterly obsolete for this engagement.

That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to use examples of past relevant projects to showcase your credentials; just don’t skip the rapport building part, Roberge warns. After all, business is all about building relationships and moving too fast can impede the building part.

Food from the slow-cooker tends to taste better than food zapped in the microwave. Likewise, if you take your time and understand what’s going on, you’ll get tastier, juicier results.

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