As business people, we often get stuck on the ultimate big commitment of the final sale and miss the many micro-commitments that a prospect will have to make before the final commitment.
“Micro-commitment” refers to the small commitments that happen as a prospect moves from unawareness to purchase. If you stop and think about it, prospects make lots of micro-commitments in the process of making a sale. If a prospect gets stuck or does not answer “yes” to moving to the next step, your sale goes into neutral (or park) until you can get the prospect what they need in order to move forward.
Stop Jumping to The End
I watch many solopreneurs jump straight to asking “do you want to buy my services?”, which often causes the prospect to jam on the sales brakes. Think about the sales process like dating. When you go out on a first date, you are in information-gathering mode, and you are focused on learning about the other person. At the end of the first date, you do not ask them to marry you. That would be creepy and weird, and they most likely will not say “yes.” In fact, they might never want to go out with you again. Instead, at the end of the first day, your next step would be the micro-commitment of asking them if they would like to go out again. While dating someone, your shared goal is to move the relationship forward in small steps. You are looking for indicators and clues that your date is interested in taking the next small step. Small steps are more natural and less threatening, and they help you and your date work together to make mutual decisions about the nature of the relationship. Sales works the same way; you are looking for buying signals from your prospect and asking them to agree to take a small step forward. You cannot move the process faster than your prospect is willing to move forward—it must be a mutual decision.
Take The Pressure Off
Micro-commitments take the pressure off of you to make the big sale right away. They break the sales process down into smaller, more manager goals. With a focus on micro-commitments, all I am trying to do is get a commitment that moves the sales process forward.
One of the first micro-commitments that the prospect makes is admitting that they have a specific problem or opportunity in their business. The next micro-commitment is about getting time and attention. Would the prospect be open to meet with you to discuss their current situation? You want the prospect to feel safe, so you want the commitment to seem as small as possible. Typically, I ask for a 10-minute meeting online or over the telephone. In my experience, a quick online meeting is a much smaller commitment than having them come to your office.
During the short meeting, I am going to ask a series of pre-planned questions. Each question builds on the previous question, which puts the prospect at ease and gives me an idea of what next small commitment I should ask for. This small meeting helps you understand the prospect so that you can better decide how to classify them:
- Prospect with a current opportunity
- Prospect with no current opportunity
- Not a prospect
How the prospect is classified determines what next commitment I should ask for.
For a prospect with a current opportunity, the next step would be to get a commitment to explore solutions to their problems in more depth. After this, the appropriate next step could be to have a longer discussion where you present solutions based on your initial qualification opportunities where you might be able to help them.
For prospects with no current opportunity, the best move might be the micro-commitment of staying in touch and providing targeted information. Don’t underestimate the power of a micro-commitment. I have noticed that people who make the micro-commitment of receiving information from you are less likely to unsubscribe and more likely to answer your calls because they have said it is okay for you to reach out.
You can ask for micro-commitments on the phone, in an email, or during a meeting. A key is to only ask for one commitment at a time. If you get greedy and ask for multiple commitments, you can quickly overwhelm your prospects. Until your prospect fulfills the current commitment, don’t ask for the next for another commitment.
Each micro-commitment your prospect agrees to is one small step forward, and every step forward builds momentum toward the sale. Your job is to understand where your prospect is during the sales process and provide them with the next appropriate next small step.
Do you know what micro-commitments you need to ask for in your sales process?
Don’t focus on the sale. Instead, focus on meeting the buyer where they are, and then help them make the next micro-commitments to move the sales process forward.