Sunday, April 2, 2017

"The Fourth, But Not Necessarily Final Step, In Making an AIP Sale"

To make a sale to a client or customer involving aging in place products, services, or solutions, there are four principal steps, and this is the last of those. There are additional steps - refinements and sub-steps of some of the others - but asking for the order, or what what some might describe as closing the sale, is the last main step.

Remember that the first step is to learn what the customer is seeking and what it will take to satisfy their wants, desires, or needs, followed by step two which is to explain how what we offer does just that, and then step three to confirm that our solution matches their needs and prepare to ask for the order by eliminating any lingering questions or concerns. Step four is to ask for the order, including on-going conversations and follow-up that may ensue to explain further what is available, facilitate a decision, or keep the client engaged until a decision can happen.

We looked at how people often put together a short list of finalists that they would accept to provide the needed services for them and then they review that list to arrive at the one or two companies or individuals that they are willing to seriously consider and eventually work with. We must be on this list to have any chance of closing the sale. Otherwise, it is being very presumptuous of us.

How can we tell where we stand in their thought process? By asking them. We clarify what they have been considering, what they have looked at or discussed out of our presence, what they think of our proposed solutions for their issues, how our budget and schedule works for them, how confident they are that we can do what we say and create the solution they need and seek, and then make sure there are no outstanding issues, concerns, or stumbling blocks.

By systematically eliminating everything standing in the way of a decision - if there is anything - they are ready to say yes to us and likely not to regret their decision and feel like cancelling or rescinding it the next day.

If they express overwhelming enthusiasm for our proposal, we may be right to the agreement stage and get them to approve the paperwork and authorize our getting started. If they are more reserved in expressing their feelings about what we have been discussing with them, we will need to bring them along and make sure they are comfortable with us and our solution.

Then we can close the sale - a mere formality really. They already have agreed to what we want to do. This is just their formal approval on our work order, job scope, scope of services, or other name that may head the paper that describes what we are going to be doing and lays out all of the terms and conditions that apply.

If they aren't ready to give us a commitment while we are meeting with them - regardless of whether this is the first, second, or third meeting, we need to explain to them how we are going to remain involved with them until they are comfortable in authorizing the work - assuming we have received general agreement from them that they really do want our help. It might be a matter of releasing the funds, obtaining them, making the commitment, getting other decision makers to accept what they want us to do, or making some logistical arrangements within the home itself first. We should be able to tell the difference between genuine interest and procrastination or a stall.

As long as the interest is there, we need to be resolved to working with them until they can agree formally to our terms and approve the agreement for us to begin.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.