Measure Twice, and Cut Once: 4 Ways to be Better Prepared in Business

Jeff Cartwright-May 2016

“Measure twice, and cut once.”

Those who know me, may well be surprised that I chose this carpentry quote; to title this month’s blog. "Measure twice, and cut once" speaks to the idea in sales that, one should always be thorough and precise in their planning and prep, before closing the deal, or even before moving forward to the next step in their sales process. 

In my many years of observation, most sales people spend very little time in prep and planning. They most often think that their ability to plan is limited, until they get in front of the client or customer. As if an unplanned trusted advisor is exactly what the customer needed.  Obviously,  nothing could be farther from the truth.  Today’s client or customer is more in need now than ever before; of a well thought out, customized plan to meet many of the challenges facing their business every hour, of every day.  I can’t imagine, asking to become the business owner’s trusted advisor; without having done the advance planning and preparation required to really know their business, and their industry.   

So I offer 4 ideas to help you become a better “carpenter”!

1. Visualize your planning process; Prepare a ‘mental plan’! If you’re just beginning your sales process (an intro call or visit), or about to ‘ask for the order’, you need to first visualize the scene. Play the interaction with the customer in your mind. What might you say if he says: “I need a little time to sleep on your proposal.” Or, “It’s not in our budget right now.” Or, “We’ve decided to buy from another company.”  To “play” these possible scenarios in your mind, you can formulate a reasonable response (in your mind), and thus rehearse various responses until you’re comfortable and more confident. You might play this mental plan (thru several hundred synapses), over and over in your mind. How prepared you want to be, will be how many times you visualize these scenes.  By the way … when you finally find yourself ‘live’ in front of your customer, and she says: “It’s not in our budget right now”; your brain has played that response several hundred times, and you will feel as if you’ve been there (or here) before. That’s known as ‘déjà vu’. We’ve all experienced that shiver of emotion, and it’s frequently followed by an enhanced level of confidence, because you’ve already heard it before.   Once you get in the habit of ‘mental planning’, it may only take a few minutes to plan several ‘what if’ scenarios. ALL professionals rehearse or practice in their minds, before ever stepping out on stage or their chosen venue.  Sales Professionals are obligated to do the same.

2. Plan for the best outcome; expect that he will say ‘yes’! Why not? Planning for the very best outcome, will place you in a positive mind set. You’ll begin to breathe a little easier, you’ll start to smile subconsciously, and … it may well become a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you think you’ll win, you will. If you think you won’t win, you will not.  I think that a positive mindset, especially in your planning stages, allows you to really ‘take in’ all aspects of the sale that’s about to take place. If you know that the customer really does need your solution, and that it will really help him grow his business, and realize his vision for the business; you’re more likely to enter the venue self-assured.  And when you’re advising or closing from a position of positive energy, if any objection does come up, you’re of a more open and positive mind set to answer the customer’s concern.

3. Think thru the objections and practice various responses!  Remember the origin of all objections: a request for more information. It really is not the customer’s intention to stump you, or, cause you to get off your game. In my experience, the customer just wants (or needs) more information to draw closer to making a decision. If you think thru objections you’ve experienced in the past; you’ll consider the way that you addressed them, and the customer’s ultimate response when he finally received a relevant and unbiased response to his question.  “Thinking Thru” the objection means considering every objection thru an investigative eye. Once you’re in the “think thru” zone, you’ll begin to see responses that also need to be “tried on for size”. Once the customer realizes that you’ve devoted this level of prep and planning, he will respond in kind. Customer’s do appreciate the work in preparation that you do in their behalf. I find that they are then, more inclined to give more credence to your answer to their objection. And, because of reciprocity, they will then feel compelled to give to you, what you’ve given to them. 

4. True Prep and Planning always leads to the best outcome!  Think back to your best close, or your largest sale negotiated, or any sales transaction where you still have that accomplished feeling, many years later.  My experience tells me that those partnerships were the results of intense planning and preparation on your part.  Some of the planning may have been mental, where you visualized the outcome and played it out in your mind. Or, it may have been the result of your self-fulfilling prophecy. Or, you may have borrowed from your past successes to persuade and convince the client, to focus on his company’s growth, and not the short term cost.  I know that each of those times you engaged in some form of prep and planning that led to those positive outcomes. 

So, stop denying the value to you and your customer, of intense and relevant planning. And start to “measure twice and cut once”. It’s what ALL professionals do every day, with every transaction. Do you consider yourself “part-time” or a full time professional? 

If you answered the latter … welcome to the professional ranks of carpenters (and sales people)!

What are ways you measure twice and cut once in business?