The Space Between: It’s Not Just A Good Dave Matthews Song

You’re far enough down the path with your client that you need something to happen to justify the time investment you’ve made. The introductory meeting leads to a discovery meeting that leads to follow up meeting. And now, there you are, prepping to present your solution. But it’s got holes. Not major holes, mind you, but enough that you know the client is going to see this as something other than a “turn-key solution.” Heaven help you if the solution has a technology component. Most of us in sales understand conceptually what our technology does, but once the “points and clicks” start happening, invariably we’re going to need the assistance of one of our capable technology partners, which are not in sales….for a reason. If the client starts parrying with them about how the solution may not be a total complement to their needs, things are going to get dicey--fast. I’ve been there. Many times. While I’ve never been in an actual gunfight, the rapid-fire questions often take on the feel of hot lead flying around the demonstration, most assuredly guaranteeing us that the time investment we’ve made to this point is headed….down…..the…..drain.This is the moment, sales pro, that you must show your value. Keep some items in mind as you attempt to reign things in and get this out of control situation back on track.

  1. While the client may have studied potential solutions, often it’s been through the narrow viewpoint of a product presentation, which 99% of the time occurs without sufficient discovery of the client needs. Or worse yet, it’s been done via the internet, anonymously, with zero guidance.
  2. Even if the client fully understands what it’s looking for, no one has taken the time to work with the decision makers to prioritize. Many of their questions are meant to clarify what your solution will do and what it won’t do, so they can later sit  compare what each option offers and what the associated costs will be for each potential solution.
  3. Every solution has holes. Every one of them! There isn’t a solution on earth that’s bulletproof, for it there were, we’d all be selling it and the manufacturer would be charging us the equivalent of a third-world country GDP to sell it.

So, take a breath.  Gather yourself, and say something that sounds roughly like: “We’re confident that you’ll find our solution solves that problem in the following way.”

That chasm between how what you’re selling fixes their problem and what they’re asking for is called “the space between.” I’ve found that once the client knows that the problem will be addressed by your solution, he or she is satisfied. Only when we scramble trying to explain things away do we cause ourselves problems. Please, for all that is good in the world, avoid “the space between.” Otherwise, you’ll find yourself off in the harrowing land of “customization,” which, while navigable, is far more perilous and time-consuming than the mere avoidance of “the space between” will ever be.