GAIM PLANThe GAIM Plan came about as I watched so many sales people and account managers struggle with the different ways they tried to break into new accounts, and to find ways to talk to senior executives.

Most sales and marketing people, and even senior account managers, start talking about what they did for their last account, and the account before that, ad nauseam. It’s like saying, “I’ll tell you what I can do, stop me when you hear something that might interest you.”

If you are like most sales people and account managers, you struggle about how to sell your products, once you get in front of your prospect. There are so many so called sales trainers, many who have never sold anything, trying to teach people how to sell. They have cheesy techniques for talking to people, how to open a cold call, how to close. They are all ridiculous, and they never worked anyway.

The only way, to really close, is to let the buyer decide. Sales people don’t really sell – buyers buy. In any sales, however, you can lead the buyer to buy from you versus your competitor. That is what the GAIM Plan will allow you to do.

The GAIM Plan will give you the process you need to execute a flawless game plan, and to derive complete understanding of the goals and issues your prospects and clients are facing, and also the impact your solution will have on him and his company.

The GAIM Plan will also teach you how to stop talking, and to ask the key questions you need to ask, in order to understand how you can help your prospect or client further.

It will also teach you how to better qualify your prospects, so you don’t spend a lot of time chasing someone who has no desire to buy. Most sales people spend far too much time spinning their wheels and dialing their phones, trying to get at people who cannot say yes to your proposal. I want to teach you how to get away from that useless activity.

As a B2B marketer, and all B2B people are B2B marketers, you probably have a sales cycle that can stretch into several months, or even years. But if you really want to succeed in sales, you need to find a way to qualify people very early in your sales cycle.

The real key in moving any sales situation forward is qualifying. Closing the sale becomes second nature, when you qualify properly. You don’t need stupid closing techniques when you qualify well. Why? Because the prospect will close himself.

You will guide him along a path that will either lead him to close, or realize that your product is not the right one for him. In fact, you will know this long before the prospect does, and you will then stop wasting your time trying to “sell” him anymore.

And the most important thing you need to know and understand in sales is this – Get to NO as fast as you can.

Why do you want to get to NO first and fast?

You want to eliminate people that are going to waste your time, and are not going to buy from you, either because they are just tire kicking, or you do not have the product or service they need. As an account manager or relationship manager, you want to work only with prospects you believe you can help, and you can build a good business relationship with.

So, let’s exam The GAIM Plan and see how it can make your company a winner.

The GAIM Plan is an acronym for:

G-oals
A-fflictions
I-mpact
M-eaning

It is important to understand each of these very important words and the impact and meaning they will have on your own sales performance.

Goals

The first thing you should be asking people, in any B2B sales situation, is what their goals are. Now you don’t have to ask it in those exact words. There are easier ways to ask this question. However, sometimes, just asking what their goals are will give some astonishing insight into their business plans.

The idea behind The GAIM Plan is to get your prospect/client talking and telling you what he wants to do, and what is holding him back. Many people feel that just asking about his problems and issues is the way to start.

Of course getting to the issues – or Afflictions – is very important and mandatory. But people like talking about their goals and dreams. And by understanding what a person’s goals and dreams are, you get a better perspective of that person, his company, and whether there will be a fit for your products or not.

You could ask, “Why are you doing this now?” If you know the marketplace you are in, and generally why people buy your products and services, you probably already know the answer. But this will give you an insight into why this particular prospect wants to buy.

Remember, in any sales call, or in fact in any communication, learn to understand before being understood. Therefore, it is mandatory for you to get into the reasons why someone is buying.

You will find by asking simple questions like these that your prospect will want to share his goals and even his dreams with you. Don’t be shy about asking him these questions.

Once you have unearthed his goals, then you move on to the issues that may be stopping him from attaining his goals.

Afflictions

An affliction is a term that covers all of the issues, problems, concerns, etc. that your prospect is facing in moving forward with his new initiative. What you want to do, for all of your sales, is uncover the issues, problems, obstacles, etc. that your prospect is encountering, or will face, as he moves toward his goal.

The simplest way to uncover these afflictions is simply to ask your prospect. Ask him, “What issues or obstacles do you see that you need to overcome in order for you to reach your goals?”

You will probably get a myriad of issues. And many times, your prospect won’t even know what the issues are. Here is where you can help him to discover some of these roadblocks. So, you have to lead them down that path.

Because you know your products well, and the issues that your clients faced before they could use your products and services, you can help lead your prospect down the right path. However, most of the time he will know what his obstacles are, and will elaborate them well to you.

It is imperative that you unearth as many issues as you can here. Remember, you are qualifying the prospect here, to ensure that he is a fit for your products.

Then you must prioritize his goals and issues. Only work on the top three, of his major goals and issues, in your first meeting, as you will get too bogged down if you try and work on any more. And you must ask him what his top three are, do not make any assumptions here.

Once you believe you have uncovered the most important of these issues, then you move onto finding the impact these issues will have on his goals.

Impact

This is an area that most people omit when they are qualifying a prospect. They omit it because it can touch on some very sensitive issues for the prospect. But if you do omit this factor, then you are going to find that you will end up wasting a lot of your time chasing prospects who are not going to buy from you.

Here is a good example of a sales rep who didn’t ask this question.

It is the story of a sales rep who sold software for tracking trucks, ensuring they went to the right destinations. As the sales rep was questioning the prospect, who owned a bunch of “Dollar Stores”, the owner acknowledged that many times his trucks didn’t end up at the right store.

So instead of asking the impact this had on the prospect’s business, the sales rep thanked the business owner, and hustled back to his office to write a lengthy proposal about how his company’s software could solve this problem for the business owner.

Once the business owner received the proposal, he contacted the sales rep, to tell him that he didn’t need his software. The sales rep was totally perplexed, and then finally asked why not. The owner told him that although the trucks went to the wrong stores numerous times, it had no impact on his business. Why, because the store managers simply emptied the trucks and sold the merchandise anyway.

You have to ask what the impact will be, if that particular problem is not resolved. And you need to ask this about all of the issues your prospect brings up.

There is another benefit you will probably get by asking this question about each of the issues you are discussing with your prospect. You will probably discover some of the personal wins your prospect will get by resolving these issues.

And don’t forget, that these issues are much more important to your prospect than the business problems. The business problems are important, but the personal issues are much more important.

As you can see, you need to uncover the impact your solution will have, not only on your prospect’s company, but more importantly, what impact it will have on him personally.

Meaning

Here is where you can give your presentation on your products, because now you know your prospects goals, his afflictions, and the impact all of these things will have on him and his company, whether he commits to his goals, and solves his issues or not. And you also know what order everything will occur.

So how do you do this?

You have to pick the features of your products and services that relate to each of his top three goals and issues. But, do not dwell on the features of your product or services, ensure you show how these features relate to his goals and issues. Relate the features by talking about the benefits he will receive from these features.

And I cannot emphasize this enough. Only talk about the features and benefits that relate to his goals and issues, and how he will get to his goals and resolve his issues, with your products and services.

Show him the VALUE your products and services will bring him.

There is an old saying that I like. Keep your product (and service) behind your back. Remember that your prospect really doesn’t care how many awards you have won, he only cares about how you can help him realize his goals, and solve his problems.

So, always, always keep this in mind when you are presenting your products.