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by Crispin Sandford

When someone has shown interest in what you do, the services you provide and how you provide them then you have yourself a legitimate lead. Too often people accept a list of people suspected as having an interest but who have not directly expressed or demonstrated interest in what you do. I call these people suspects. Almost every list you can buy on the market is actually a list of suspects. Once you have validated you have a lead, there are five stages to go through as you develop that lead in to a closed customer or client.

The five stages you can take a lead through to a close are:

Stage 1. Establish a broader interest

Stage 2. Develop their broader interest

Stage 3. Build agreement

Stage 4. Come to terms

Stage 5. Close

Establish a broader interest

When someone has attended a webinar, an event or in some way expressed interest in what you do and how you do it, it is important to first discuss the subject of their interest when beginning a conversation, say “Time Management” for example, however the first stage of turning a lead into a customer or client is to establish a “broader interest” in what you do and how you do it. You would bring up the Time Management webinar you held and ask how they enjoyed it. After they tell you about it, you can ask why it was they signed up for it. They might tell you that they are working on getting promoted, and they read online that you provide executive coaching and are holding a webinar on Time Management that seemed like it would be helpful to them when it comes to being better positioned for a promotion. You then could ask, aside from time management what other areas would they like to improve as they work toward getting a promotion? These will likely be areas you can help them in as a part of the services you offer. By answering these questions, you will have established in them a broader interest in what you do.

They will normally make the shift themselves when discussing the subject of their initial interest with you. It is important for you to focus on the subject of their interest and to talk all about it. You must ask questions that will expose broader concerns related to your area of expertise. You can also plant seeds about other things you do to help your customers and clients get results, as has been done with the questions above and the conversations they prompt.

When they bring up additional plans they have, problems they are running into, ask them to tell you more about it. You can then share how your company addresses those problems or you can discuss great product or service providers that can help them, perhaps as a part of a complete solution to their problems.

The more you let them talk, and actively listen and ask relevant questions, the more they will open up the subject of the conversation to other matters. This is where a broader interest in what you do and how you do it is being established.

Develop their broader interest

When you have an opportunity to brief a lead on the broader aspects of what you do and the results you provide, do so; either right then and there, as well as in latter conversations or just during a latter scheduled appointment.

It is important to remain brief in the summary of the broader aspects of what you do and to let them guide you along specific interests they have in what you do. Then you can talk more about the specific interests they have in what you do.

By letting leads ask you questions, which you must answer in terms of why you do what you do and how you do it, you will ensure that you develop their broader interest in what you and your organization do. The more they see you can help them get the results they are after, the more likely they are to want to do business with you.

Build agreement

As you establish in them an understanding of what you do and how you do it, as well as what you don’t do (it’s important to manage their expectations accurately) you will also want to work with them to identify the ways they could benefit from what you do, and how that might look and play out. For example, you might say “it looks like you’d like to upgrade the four computers you have in your office – yours, your partners, the office managers and the receptionists. You’d like them all to be networked to a server in your office and for you, your partner and the office manager to have remote access using the laptops they currently have. You’d also like all four of you to have the professional suite of apps we discussed on the new computers and their current laptops… is that correct?” “You also said you don’t want new monitors, since you only recently replaced the monitors, but you would like new keyboards and mouses for the new desktop computers. Is that right?”

During this stage it is important to confirm with them what they want and what they don’t want. It is just as important to get a no from them as it is a yes, as long as you are building an agreement with them. You want this, but not that. You’d like this, but the medium-priced version. You’re interested in the higher priced one, but maybe you’ll get it at a later date, etc.

Come to terms

When you have arrived at an agreement on the ways in which you can provide them with

help, assistance, with products, and/or services, and have established how things will play out, in terms of delivery (especially if you have lined up several services) it is important to come to terms – to establish the agreement you will operate on. This essentially means, you’ll provide these services at this price.


When a new customer or client pays, the deal has closed. For various reasons, the deal may not close when you have come to terms – logistics being a key reason. The close is the final stage in this process. Once you have come to terms, have established how things will play out, then it’s just a matter of getting paid.

By getting in the habit of taking a lead through these five stages: establishing a broader interest, developing their broader interest, building agreement, coming to terms and closing on those terms, you will convert more leads into clients, establish a flow and momentum to your sales process and do much more business over the coming weeks and months then you were before.

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