Let’s Pretend Conversations

A powerful, unassuming, simple to implement, and essential tool to have in your sales and leadership toolbox. Let’s Pretend Conversations are a firm mutually agreed agenda and the bridge between your discovery conversation and presentation.

When I work one on one with clients and sales teams, they typically aren’t allowed to do any form of presentation, sample, trial, estimate, bid, facility tour, nor anything for the prospect before having a firm Let’s Pretend Conversation.

In an ideal world, here’s an example of a Let’s Pretend conversation to give you a little context of what it might look, sound, and feel like, and then we’ll break it down into its components. However, please know that it NEVER goes like this and scripts typically don’t work anyway.

[Following a great Discovery conversation] You and your prospect agree to a date, time, and closing conditions including all the details like location and decision-makers who need to be present. You’re about to pack up to leave and start working on a quote back at your office.

You say, “Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, Let’s Pretend I get back to my office and do my absolute best, I pull out all the stops and really sharpen my pencil, but when I come back on Tuesday at 2 you HATE it…what happens then?”

Prospect replies, “I’ll tell you, “No.”

You add, “Great. That certainly won’t hurt my feelings. And, if you love it…then what?”

Prospect responds, “I’ll sign the application and write you a check.”

You softly express, “Perfect. The one thing I hope doesn’t happen is some version of Think about it. Let me ask you a crazy question…when parents tell their kids they need to think about it, what are they really telling them?”

Prospect, “No.”

You, “Absolutely. I’m okay with a no. The last thing I want for you to do is feel any pressure to tell me you need to think about it when it’s really just a no. Fair?”

Let’s break it down.

  • Pre-requisites: You’ve had a very good Discovery conversation with your prospect. You’ve learned your prospects…
    • compelling Personal Emotional Needs (PENs),
    • adequate Resources of time, energy, and money, and
    • an acceptable Selection Process. At the conclusion of Discovery and before presenting you’ll want to make sure you have all the hidden challenges uncovered and a commitment to move forward or NOT.
  • No – They’re okay telling you, “No.” Often they will be reluctant to be honest with you and are likely not used to a salesperson being okay with a “No.” You’ll most likely have to coax a version of no out of them, and they’ll need to vocalize it in their own words.
  • Yes – They are comfortable with a “Yes” and know what that means in your world. For example, if you need a signature on an agreement and payment or get their credit card information, they will need to know exactly what that is and to have it available.
  • Not “Think about it” – You are establishing very clear, mutually agreed expectations and we don’t present anything without a commitment to take action. Either we are going to get a no or we are going to get a yes, but we are not going to accept a think it over. If they are wishy-washy on this, DON’T PRESENT. They have to be willing to tell you, “No” or take whatever next steps you’ve agreed upon with them.

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