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Selling the Future

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

When meeting with a prospective client, you're trying to understand their problems, determine their objectives, explain your services and outline the many benefits of working with you.

But what if it's not going anywhere?

No matter how much you ask, how well you present your advantages or how sincere you are about helping this prospective client, things don't seem to be clicking.

In that case, I suggest selling the future.

What I mean by this is going beyond outlining objectives, value and measures of success (which most of us don't do a good job with to begin with), and helping the prospective client get in touch with their real motivation to take action, to move in a new direction.

This motivation always lies in the future and it lies inside the client, not outside. You need to go beyond the surface and discover their highest aspirations, their most compelling dreams.

How do you do this? 

Once you've learned about their situation and problems and discussed objectives and outcomes, what you need to do is dig deeper and learn why those solutions or outcomes are important to them.

You're really always asking the same question: "If you got X, then after you have it, what do you want that's even more important?" But as simple as this might seem, the ultimate result can be very powerful.....
You: "If we handled this problem for your company what would be different than it is now?"

Prospect: "Well, I think we'd be much more productive."

Y: "And if you were more productive, as productive as you can imagine, then what would you want that was even more important?"

P: "We'd be more profitable, more successful. Our products would sell better and our customers would be happier."

Y: "And if you were more profitable, more successful, with happier customers, then what would you want that was even more important?"

P: "This would be a great place to work. We'd have fun, energy would be high and we'd all love working here."

Y: "And if it became a great place to work and you had fun and energy and and you all loved working here, is there anything else that's even more important that you'd want?' 

P: "No, I think it would be great if we could achieve that!"

Y: "I think so too. I'd love to work together with you to help yopu get there. This is exactly what we do for our client companies. When would you like to get started?"

P: "Right away!"
What happens in this process of selling the future is that your prospect gets in touch with what they really want, what's really important to them. And when that is clear, people become motivated to move heaven and earth to get that result.

If you have helped facilitate this process, they will see you as a partner in producing that result. You've asked the right questions, you've listened, you've resonated with what was important to them. You've clicked.

Doesn't it make sense that this would dramatically increase the chances of them working with you?

I challenge you to start selling the future to your clients. It's what they want. Help them see it and then help them get there. What work could be more exciting than that?

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

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