Options Paper

The civil war in Syria has vexed plenty of democratic minds over the past year.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson reported that UK PM Cameron has decided we are now at the “something must be done stage”.

This is because he believes the British public now demand action.

He is due to chair a National Security Council which has been presented with an Options Paper.

There appear to be at least three ‘options’ in it; no-fly zone, weapons direct to the opposition, encourage Arab neighbours to supply weapons to the opposition.

So. An options paper, eh?

This reminded me straight away of one lovely sales process element, akin to a ‘pre-proposal’.

Such a component as part of your process can be a real winner.

It can address three vital issues.

The first relates to the explicit acknowledgement of the ‘problem’. There is now documented acceptance that ‘something must be done’. This can be priceless. And of course, whichever potential vendor gets to frame this ‘issue’ is usually in the box seat to resolve it.

Second, is that it can be a great way of broaching ‘price’ in a painless fashion.

Rather than come a cropper from the inevitable sharp intake of breath when you first mention the money, you can introduce ranges. It’s perfectly legitimate, as it is all about initial finger-in-air ideas.

Third, it shows you are truly thinking about the prospect’s best interests. The more options you put forward, the better. No matter whether they may sound more ‘bones’ than ‘meat’.

These give you ample chance to go back with the proper Prop with your final, say, three alternatives.

I understand not every deal requires this type of step. But when you know you’ll have to go through a few hoops, and a number of meetings in between, this kind of work can be the real difference. Especially if you’re currently stuck on sending prices through after Meeting One…

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