Canyons and Bridges

When you’re selling, you want to close the deal quickly.

But when you’re buying, you want to make sure you’re doing what’s right for you, which can be particularly hard if you don’t have a lot of expertise in the domain of your problem.

You might feel like you’re at the side of a canyon, looking across to the other side at your goal state.

Too Far to Jump


(You may not even know the details of your goal state, just that it’s somewhere on the other side– think of the canyon shrouded in fog.)

However much pain you’re experiencing on your side, and however much you want to get to the other side, you know you can’t make the jump.

What if you can create a bridge?

How easy is it to get across now?

Sales Cycle with Bridge

Sure, we may have some fear of heights, but this looks much more reasonable.

If I’ve got serious problems on my side, and the goal state looks much better, AND I have a reasonable way to get there, I’m much more willing to move.

When you have prospects with real problems, and you think you have a great solution for them, but they’re not buying, make sure you’re not asking them to jump across the canyon.

All of this is just metaphorical, of course. (Unless you literally build bridges.) The prospect’s perception of the canyon and the bridge is what’s important. Sometimes it’s as simple laying out a few bullet points about how you get across. (Best done as a collaborative discussion.)

Sometimes, you can sell a partial solution, rather than requiring the whole jump at once.

Scott Ingram, host of the Sales Success Podcast, mentioned how he used this technique to sell network administration services (here’s the interview on Sales for Nerds). Rather than pitching the whole solution at the beginning of the sales cycle, Scott pitched doing an assessment. This had a few great advantages compared to competitors who were pushing things too far, too fast.

  • It was much cheaper.
  • It didn’t involve as much commitment. Both sides could get a feel for working together.
  • It was clearly more in the client’s interest. Scott’s pitch was that he couldn’t possibly give an accurate proposal until he had done an assessment. Anyone who said they could was either lying or didn’t know what they were talking about. One he had completed the assessment, the client could bid it out to whoever they wanted (although they always chose his company.)

The assessment is a great way to get started on big projects. Depending on the situation, you could also do a proof-of-concept (POC), or break a big project down into a smaller “phase 1” that’s meaty enough to offer some value, while avoiding riskier parts of the overall solution.

What options do you have to build a bridge across the canyon?


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