Why you should say no if you don’t match 100% of your prospect’s need

In the good old days, sales people were able to fill their portfolio with stock items and hit the road selling those, without much preferences if customers’ needs fit to that product. But now, customers are demanding 100% solution of their problems.

Some time ago, in a world of never ending market growth, goods had to be produced cheaper and cheaper, driving competition harder and harder. All eyes were focused on how to source and produce to the lowest cost as possible, not what customer really needed.

Customers thought they were needed the offered goods – and for sure, they couldn’t find anything else. And customers were right, not much were changing from year to year or even from decade to decade. Globalization – as we now it today – driven by the internet revolution hadn’t started yet. Companies were pretty happy to source their business with goods available.

Then something happened. A great paradigm shift, from producers’ point of view to customers’.

The introduction of internet started a customer education process. First at slow pace, but soon accelerating. Customers started to get informed using available information and with social media introduction, they were also able to discuss within their networks about their problems and needs, just to get as informed they could before they engaged with a salesman.

Today, this paradigm shift is fully completed. The customer has made himself comfortable in the driver’s seat and decisions are made fully informed. But they still need help to match products with their needs, in detail.

On the selling side, we meet with fully informed customers, so it shouldn’t be any problem – if you are informed at the same level about your products. In my blog post Why Expertise Outperforms Process , I explain why being an expert on your own products or services is mandatory these days.

But my point is, if the salesman’s offer don’t fit 100%, the customer don’t solve 100% of their problems. The result on your customer’s side is not reaching their fully potentials and goals, leading to decreased competiveness. On the selling side, you may lose the deal to a competitor meeting 100% of the needs. Or, have a lot more work to get it. Work including persuasion, product customizations, discussions, motivations an much more hassle to eventually end up with the signed contract.

My advice is simple. Only go for opportunities you know you will solve 100% of your customer’s needs.

puzzle

In an efficient sales process, the first stage – qualification – secures no deal is allowed to pass if not a couple of qualification questions are having positive answers. Common questions are such as if customer has budget, if you talk to the decision makers, if investment is intended in reasonable time frame, if competition is not too overwhelmingly and so on.

“If your product fit” sometimes is one of these questions, but not too often the most important and never the only one. Why? It should be.

Think about the “good old days” when everything you produced could be sold, no matter what. The salesman was king and customers were trusted him as The Voice from the world outside.

Those days could be revived once again, if your product is solving 100% of your customers’ needs and most of your time is spent on helping your customer understand and trust that.

Doing so before you qualify your opportunity in your sales process, will save tremendous amount of hassle and time. But to afford to spend all your time on fit matching, you need to say NO to opportunities that not have any potential to pass the “Fit Test”.

Good luck!

Stefan

 

 

Advertisements

Buyers say they don’t want you there. But they are lying.

You’re a salesman, right? Surely you’ve heard it. Companies are doing their buying process themselves, without connecting to you. To know they are in a purchase process, you have call them; they never call you. But if you call, they don’t answer or get hung up.

And if you’re not in their loop, then you lose. Maybe, it doesn’t matter, since you always can win back. Anyhow, they increasingly regret their buying decisions.

Or, you may consider they’re all lying when they say they don’t need you.

liar

According to new research, companies describe their complex-solutions purchase process as “hard”, “awful”, “painful”, “frustrating” or “minefield”. If they really describe their own selected purchase process in that manner, why do they decide not to involve you?

I think the reasons mainly are two:

  1. Companies believe they can manage a complex purchase themselves
  2. They think salesmen are too pushy

When companies think they are able to manage their purchase process themselves, they may think of the fact they have all information to make their decision. And certainly, they have. All information available on earth.

How efficient is that on a scale? The oceans of information make decisions almost impossible in first place. How to extract the right pieces of relevant information? How will they accomplish that? Maybe they perform another search on the internet, turn to their business and personal friends or industry colleagues for advice? That’s true.

According to the research, they increasingly involve more people to make their decisions. Two years ago, they involved 5.4 people to make a decision, but today 6.8. That’s more than two additional people!

Besides the cost to involve more people when decision-making, the time table for the final decision stretches a lot. According to the research, 65% of customers tell that they spent as much time as they’d expected to need for the entire purchase just getting ready to speak with a salesman. Isn’t that a waste of time, then?

Companies would be a lot more efficient making decisions with the expertise you as a salesman possess. So why do they not like to connect?

Then we come into #2. They think of salesmen as aggressive and too pushy, I believe. And I agree with that. After too many cold calls to me, trying to sell any- or something not relevant, I’ve decided just to hang up when a salesman call. Every now and then I let them answer my first objection: “What are you trying to sell to me?” before I’m clicking the red phone symbol. Because very few of them show any skill whatsoever being relevant to me, even if they do their pitch excellent.

What you should be aggressive about, is to find the potential customers’ need and pain. Do exactly as they do – use the net, social media, friends, colleagues  and so on to really find what pains people are talking about. Don’t look for “hot” solutions – search for dire pains.

The pains are real stuff. They cost money. They impact margins and make competition harder. They affect growth plans. They let management heads roll. They are the mothers of multiple layoffs. They shut factories down.

That’s really painful. So look for full pains. No little. Because with no huge and awful pains, there will be no awesome solutions to sell.

The great thing is, that you are the skilled expert of such pains. If you are able to transform yourself from a seller to a helper, you will be the decision-makers’ best friend.

Because you answer when they call, you are the expert to talk to on social media. You addresses the pains to defined problems. You understand them and connect them to real solvers of exactly that problem and finally suggest solutions that enable the elimination of the pains.

So the truth is that companies still need you. But don’t get upset when they are lying they don’t.