Dictionary.com describes alignment as “a state of agreement or cooperation among persons, groups, nations, etc., with a common cause or viewpoint.” This should be the desired state for everyone who deals with customers in transactional selling situations and especially those who work with clients in relationship based business situations. Alignment is one of the most important steps in the entire selling process and is essential if we are seeking the client’s commitment and full support.
When we are aligned, we are in agreement, prepared to cooperate, moving toward a common and beneficial goal for the client, the sales person and the company.
Alignment is evident when the client is prepared to proceed based on our ability to address their requirements and needs (logic); when we have built trust and created peace of mind (emotion). In so doing we have removed doubts, fears and concerns by presenting options and solutions that are supported by the appropriate Features/Advantages/Benefits (FAB’s) and created a value proposition customized to the client.
Factors relating to alignment are:

  • Does the customer see a fit? (It’s not about you. If they are satisfied you win too!)
  • Have you addressed their needs, wants and desires?
  • Have you solved their “pain” – fears, concerns, problems and removed or reduced anxiety?
  • Do they “own it” and see the value of your proposition?
  • Have you lead them to the through an effective needs discovery process and offered a valuable and customized solution?
  • Have they been willing followers and has trust has been growing?

Become aware of indicators that point towards alignment. Sometimes the buying window opens and closes simply because the sales person is single mindedly focused on their agenda and does not notice positive signals being sent by the client.  
Objective/hard alignment indicators:

  • The client states a positive perception of your proposed approach.
  • They ask if your product comes in a certain color or finish.
  • Ask if you are open to payment terms.
  • The client asks how soon you are available to install the product, meet end users, or present to other decision makers

Subjective/soft alignment indicators:

  • A change in body language – more animated, smiling, nodding, hands and arms moving to support their words.
  • More talkative – asking relevant questions, stating their approval, describing how they see themselves using your product or service.
  • Visualize where they will place your product.

Final Thoughts
Beyond the obvious indicators, consider the impact alignment will have on an existing or potential relationship with your client. I have seen first-hand the benefits of being aligned with my clients. It can be a game changer. It will move you into a new and special realm, that of a strategic partner. The key ingredients for achieving that position are:

  • Do the core values and beliefs of your client integrate with yours?
  • Do you feel personally accountable for your client’s success or failure?  Are you willing to provide the support to enable them to succeed?
  • What services and expertise do you possess that you are not currently providing that will contribute to the client achieving their goals? Identify them and let the client know! 

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers