Close a sale before beginning is this even possible? Yes, it is, and many top business leaders are using the concept of Outcome-Based Thinking (OBT) to achieve this in their organizations.
Before we delve into the discussion of Outcome-Based Thinking, it is important to state the foundation on which this concept is built.
It is common knowledge that individuals/customers do not buy products/services, but they buy a desired feeling or state of mind. This singular fact depicts selling as a psychological activity. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, founder, or sales executive, you must approach sales with a psychological perspective. Before even beginning your selling exercise, you have to know and understand the motives behind why people use your solution. Understand their desired state of mind for using your products/services. A good framework for achieving this and building in-depth knowledge about your customer is the Halo Strategy.
Understanding the Concept of Outcome-Based Thinking
Simply put, Outcome-Based Thinking is the ability to visualize the precise outcome of a process before beginning. In sales and business, it is the process of setting goals and creating a vivid mental picture for a particular situation based on your desired outcome for that process. For example, a sales deal.
Although Outcome-based thinking and Process-based thinking are used interchangeably by many individuals, these two concepts differ but are complementary. While Outcome-based Thinking helps you keep the end in mind, process-based thinking allows us to clearly define the steps or skill sets needed to reach that end goal.
As an entrepreneur, Outcome-Based Thinking is important because it creates an active rather than a passive or reactive business. With Outcome-Based Thinking, you establish the desired outcome of any process for your business, in this case, sales. And you build on your desired outcome to win your customer over. So rather than being reactive in your sales and going off course during a persuasion process, you can bend but not break while you achieve your goal.
Implementing Outcome-Based Thinking in Your Sales Process
Having understood the concept of Outcome-Based Thinking, here is the procedure for using OBT in your sales/persuasion process. Before going in for any sales activity or negotiation exercise, answer each of the following questions.
- What precisely do I want out of the process?
- What does the other person want? If I do not know, what are they likely to want?
- What is the least I will accept out of the process?
- What problems could come up in the process?
- How will I deal with arising problems and leverage them to the benefit of the other person and myself?
- How will I bring the process to a conclusion?
Answering these six questions before going into any sales or negotiation process charts a part in your mind. It predicts possible outcomes and helps you control the entire process even before it begins.
Putting these questions into perspective, let us give a case study of an entrepreneur selling a SaaS software solution to a company.
- What precisely do I want out of the process?
I understand that this client has an operations problem that my software will help solve. Therefore, I want to successfully sell my solution to them at $1500 to solve their pain point.
2. What does the other person want? If I do not know, what are they likely to want?
They want to solve this problem and reduce their cost of operations by 35%, and they want to be sure my solution can achieve this for them.
3. What is the least I will accept out of the process?
I am open to negotiations, but I cannot accept any offer less than $1100 because this will cover my cost of production.
4. What problems could come up in the process?
The most obvious problem is that the client might not be able to afford the solution immediately.
5. How will I deal with arising problems and leverage them to the benefit of the other person and myself?
To address this problem, I provide the client with a flexible payment pattern that allows for different payment options. The use of basic features of the software or get the premium feature while spreading the payment across with a little bit of increased interest.
6. How will I bring the process to a conclusion?
I will conclude the process at the peak of the emotional state, stress the urgency involved, confirm their payment plan, and close the deal.
Of course in many cases, the discussion may not go as you have envisaged. Therefore you need a contingency plan for such situations. For example, a customer gives you a reason why they do not need your product or service now. A very effective formula to drive the discourse/negotiation back to the desired outcome is the phrase “that is exactly why you need it”. You have to think of why exactly they should do it!
Customer: I will like to use your solution, but I have never heard of it before.
You: That’s exactly why you should give us a try now. If you’ll like to use us but never get the opportunity to see if our solution meets your desired outcome, how can you ever know?
Customer: We cannot afford your service right now, we don’t have the money.
You: That’s exactly why you need it. Purchasing our basic plan will help increase your revenue by 5% in 1 month. Use this plan for 3 months and you are already recording significant growth in your business.
This formula quickly acts on the client’s emotional reason why they need your solution and directs the discussion process back to the desired outcome.
In summary, Stephen Covey best explains the concept of Outcome-Based Thinking with habit two of his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which is “Begin with the end in mind.”
The process of winning a sale before it even begins starts from your in-depth and granular understanding of your customers (See Halo Strategy). Before you begin to create and paint a mental conversation that will guide your sales/persuasion process and led to a Win-Win situation for you and your client.
Effectively using the concept of Outcome-Based Thinking requires repetition, practice, and conscious effort to master.