Let's imagine that this decision maker has been working nonstop, unable to take a vacation all year. You find out that he's an avid skier and has been yearning for a ski vacation in Norway. Paint the picture of him glissading down pristine slopes, enjoying the magnificent scenery, while you're "minding the store." It's obvious from his wistful look that he's really intrigued with the idea of having you assist him.
But his interest level does not remain high because other demands crowd in on his attention as soon as you leave. It's been estimated that interest level decreases 50% for every 24 hours of time that passes after your contact.
Maintaining interest is like pushing the proverbial boulder up a hill, as you'll probably learn when you follow up. It's exhausting just to keep that boulder from sliding back. So you have to make the most of each face-to-face opportunity to persuade him that your services will benefit him and his company.
Once he's convinced that he really wants your services, he's past the buying line-into the region of white heat. That's when you must get his commitment. After that, his interest falls dramatically, as the chart shows.
How do you know when the other person is past the buying line?
You cannot know for sure. Even experts in body language differ in their interpretations of "buying signals." When the decision maker scratches his head or blows his nose-what does he really mean? You are on much more solid ground if you keep sounding him out about what he thinks. The word "close" sounds like something you do at the end of your presentation, but waiting until the end means not only lost opportunities but a basic misunderstanding of the whole process of persuasive communications.
Ask for-and get-agreements on key points along the way. By listening carefully and getting confirmation as you go along, your closing question will be simply a culmination or extension of a whole series of under standings. You won't feel like you're pushing and he won't feel pressured because his commitment will flow so naturally from your series of little agreements.
But you may encounter more roadblocks. To overcome these, be prepared to use the same techniques that worked so well before. You may hear:
Objection: I need to interview more people!
Most job seekers would not recognize this as an objection: they would "buy" it. After all, it's not unreasonable for the employer to want to see other candidates before making a decision. At this point, these interviewees might ask the employer when a decision would be made, express their interest, and leave.
Another option is to overcome the objection.
Clarify You: "You need to interview more people?" She: "Yes. I don't want to rush this."
Prepare You: "I can certainly appreciate that you want to be careful in making an important decision like this. May I ask you: What are the 3 main attributes you are looking for in a candidate for this job?"
She: "We're looking for someone with X, Y, and Z."
Answer You: "Yes, I can see why X, Y, and Z would be important here. I'm sorry-apparently I didn't to tell you enough about myself. We've already talked about how I used my X and Z to get very good results at Spectacular Silkworms. Would you agree that my experience clearly shows that I have X and Z?". Wait for an answer. "Good. In fact, my Y ability was probably the reason I was promoted at Fishy Scales. Mr. Perch really appreciated my leadership, especially during the last 2 or 3 years when we restructured the entire frozen foods division and I had to run that whole operation alone. Don't you agree that I have the characteristics you want?"
Stress "And, from what you've told me, the primary thing you benefit want to accomplish is to get your new Spiderweb silk operation going, is that correct? Since you're familiar with what I've accomplished in new product development, aren't you confident that I can do this job very well?" (Wait) "You can relax, knowing you have a seasoned professional handling this department."
Close "Would you please tell me if you are ready to make a decision now, or would you like to set up an appointment for a second meeting?"
Another objection you're likely to hear is: I need to think it over!
You: "I'm so pleased that you're interested enough in my working here that you'd like to think more about it. May I ask what in particular you would like to consider further?''
By asking that question, you're reducing a vague, general notion, which you cannot really deal with, to something specific, which you can handle.
You: ''Is there anything you would like to ask? I hope I've covered everything, but if I have, wouldn't it be better to discuss that now so you've had the information you need?"