Conceptual Commitment

jack carroll by Jack Carroll

One of the most commonly asked questions that I hear from sales VP's, managers and senior salespeople is, "How do I keep from wasting my time with prospects who are not going to buy from me?" It's no wonder they ask. In a major technology sale involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, a sales cycle might be six months or more. How would you feel if you invested that kind of time and energy in a prospective piece of business, and then watched it go to your competition in the final round of evaluation, especially when you're hunting big game in the profession known as major account selling? That deal might have required 50 to 100% of your time and energy. NOT winning is not acceptable.

Let me preface my explanation by telling you that the premise of professional selling is value based. Make yourself and your offering legitimate and then communicate that legitimacy. Selling from this platform earns you the right to ask for and demand fair treatment in return. Every time you give the customer something you have the right to get something in return, and this is where conceptual commitment comes in. I define conceptual commitment as: getting an agreement on value and a commitment to do business through a mental or conceptual understanding of the benefits, as opposed to doing a demo or a long winded pitch.

In sales, you get information (questions), reach understanding (customer issues), give information (present solutions), and get commitment (what they will do about it). Conceptual commitment asks them for a conditional commitment to take action if you can solve their problem cost effectively.

Here is a very simple example from the salesperson's side that illustrates conceptual commitment:

Information question-> How are you handling network downtime now?

Issue question-> What kind of problems are you having in your operation doing it that way?

Solution premise-> If a product or service were available that could eliminate 30% of the fallout from that problem, would you want to know how it worked?

Conceptual Commitment question-> If you understood how our product/service does exactly that, and does it cost effectively, would you give us your business?

If they say yes (which most of them will) you now give them proof or demonstration of how you accomplish your claim, and that proof is called a sales presentation. But it's a much more effective presentation because it is presenting a precise solution to the pain they are in as opposed to a "sales broadcast" that will put them to sleep in 5 minutes!

Suppose they say, "No, I wouldn't give you my business." I would then ask them why not, and would begin doing my own deep qualification to determine whether or not this was someone I wanted to invest my time and energy in for the next six months. Conceptual commitment forces the issue of whether or not to invest your time in an extended process...

Use it to save time and help bonafide prospects solve problems in your sales practice. It is a powerful qualification tool.

Until next time, have a great time selling and have some fun along the way. It makes things so much easier.


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