Bringing ORDER to client engagement – part 5

This phase of ORDER is “E”; the Exact Solution/Enabling Decisions. All through the qualification process we have moved away from the solution. We have focused on ensuring that we know what it is that the client really wants – we have not introduced any aspect of a product, technology or service to the discussion.

Now we are ready to present our solution to the client and in that presentation we will ensure that we are enabling the client to make a decision about our solution. If they are not able to make that decision after we present, we are probably presenting too early. We need to make sure that the correct people will hear our presentation. We are only ready when we have completed our ORD discussions and we have the right people in the room for the right amount of time so we can present in person to them.

Presenting in person is critical to enabling a win. Proposals don’t win business, people do. Luckily in our line of work, there is often a requirement to present after the initial sift from the proposal has been made. If it isn’t a requirement, pushing for a presentation as part of the response is a very good idea. Clients should be open to this and if they are not, that is a pretty bright yellow light, even at this stage!

presentation plan

Preparation is critical and in order to form the most appropriate presentation, significant time is needed to address all of these points. I am not going to go in to detail here, but this meeting plan can help structure how the content is delivered to the client.

End in Mind: you need to have a clear idea of what you want the client to say at the end of the meeting. Being transparent about the end in mind is critical so you need to know how you are going to introduce that.

Key Beliefs: What does the client need to believe in order to decide on the end in mind? Your work through ORD should have given you all of the content that you need. You need to work through which subset of information is needed for the client to be able to make a decision. Only give the information necessary for the decision. Too many times, clients are overloaded with information which only adds to the complexity of your presentation and detracts from your objective – enabling a decision.

Proof/Action: For each belief we must offer proof or action which addresses that belief. From ORD we understand the clients issues in priority order so we can easily demonstrate how our services resolve these. We also understand their decision criteria so we can show how we meet them and we understand any resource constraint, so we can confirm they will be used appropriately. We now also present our solution as compellingly as we can, against each belief – taking account of the fact that we only need to give the client the information they need to make a good decision.

Questions: We need to plan to get answers to questions that we have not yet managed to obtain. These should be prioritised and you need a plan in case the answer is not what you were expecting to hear. You also need to prepare to answer questions from the client. Putting yourself in their shoes is a useful exercise to build up a list of questions that might be asked. Also be aware that the question or comment that is made may not be the real question that is being asked. Careful listening and asking for clarification is necessary to ensure you are answering to the clients satisfaction.

Yellow Lights: a yellow light is a signal that the client will not make a decision. Turning yellow lights to green or red is a skill which needs to be worked at, especially when the yellow lights come during the presentation. Acknowledge, understand and resolve is an effective pattern for resolution.

Next Steps and Agenda: If the decision that is enabled at the end of the presentation is not the final decision, the next steps to making that decision should be confirmed so that there is mutual agreement about moving forward. Agreeing the agenda with the client before you meet is also a good way to enable the final decision to be made .

Ultimately, we are after a decision; “yes, let’s do it”, “no thanks”, “we can’t decide right now”. If we have done our preparation through the ORD steps we should have given ourselves the best possible chance of getting a yes decision.

In the final part of my ORDER series I will summarise the final R – Results. This actually deals with one of the most positive outcomes of this methodology following on from a “yes” decision – repeat business.

The reference for this material is “Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship” by Mahan Khalsa and Randy Illig and can be found on Amazon here.

– Neil