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Pipeline! Getting to Agreement ...

The Third Stage of the Pipeline is the "Contracting" or "Close Them" Stage. It is the stage that many fail to do well because their too busy trying to sell the prospect. If you do the previous stages well, this stage is a mere formality. With a good process, future customers sell themselves.

How can we say this? When you consider that you already know that the prospect needs, wants and can afford your business. Couple this with them truly valuing what you have to offer and it's just a matter of spelling out the rules. Good filtering techniques at Stage Two can start this process as a precursor to Stage Three. When you arrive at the third stage, your job is to come to agreement with your future customer on two things.

  • First: You both must agree on "what" you are truly supplying to the recipient of your product(s)/service(s). You know, what your customer "gets." This also covers where, when, how, and sometimes who, why and who else.

  • Second: You both must agree on "what" your customer shall give you in return. (The same things are covered here.)

Many in the sales profession focus on closing techniques when they get to this stage. Others focus on developing negotiating skills. These are important talents/skills to develop. Lots of books, tapes, & videos are available for those wishing to gain knowledge in these areas. Their great starting points in becoming acquainted with easier ways to come to agreement.

This stage should also cover the specific contractual obligations of both supplier & customer. You want to cover any default conditions that might occur & the leverage each party has to smooth the process out when the unplanned occurs.

Other important points to consider at this stage are picking, choosing and developing the right scripts for your specific agreements. This may cover a very powerful dialog tool called "Tie-downs" too. And please note: Scripting here will create consistency in the process ONLY if the script is developed and ADHERED to by all involved.

Hint: The best approach I've seen used is creating a process that focuses on any "Concerns & Considerations" (C&C) that future customers may have. Your task is to have within your process the most clearly stated response possible to address the client's C&C's as they come up. Please note that I'm not using the "OBJECTIONS" term most sales professionals use here. It's my experience that when the first two stages are done correctly, all that needs to be dealt with here is C&C's.

Again, what you want to occur here is have future customers sell themselves. This requires from your process less resources and less maintenance before, during and after the agreement is reached.

Creating an Effective/Efficient Third Stage: Ask yourself how well do you come to agreement with your candidates. Do you have scripts in place to handle the projected C&C's of your base? Are you willing to walk away if a person isn't willing to abide by the rules you've chosen to do business by? Are you too willing to make exception to your process just to accommodate a new client? What are your criteria? What is your process? How consistent is it? Do you have people moving out of the contracting stage & find out that they can't meet their part of the agreement with no recourse to rely upon?

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate yourself at the effectiveness in this area and let's not forget the efficiency (Return on investment in this endeavor.) What should be added to make it a perfect Ten if it's not? A good Stage Three creates an assurance for both parties involved that what is being promised will be delivered.

So. Is your brain having a munch feast at this point? Splendid! Catch up with us next week when we cover Stage Four!

[Interested in receiving a graphic of the pipeline? Send a request to the following E-mail address Pipeline Request.

Have a BODACIOUS week!

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Coach John S. Nagy is CEO and Lead Business Coach for Coaching for Success. Inc., a Business Coaching Service specifically designed for top level decision makers dedicated to peak performance in all facets of their activities. He's hired to focus them continuously in activities that bring higher returns on their resource use. His programs are for the seriously committed. This means having his clients work "ON" their businesses, not just "IN" it. He's a published author and a multi-degree professional with a nationwide client base. Coach Nagy can be reached through his E-mail address at his website at http://www.coach.net and by calling 813-949-0718.

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Copyright 1999 John S. Nagy


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