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

Being analogue take you further in sales

I’m just reading a book about the possible danger of always being connected. The innermost sentence of the book is to illustrate the importance of being offline – analogue – from time to time, in an online, digital world. More than having a sense when to disconnect and relax in these times of summer and vacations, you need to develop skills to float between being digital and analogue during your sales process, which contains elements of high pace, unexpected events and intense competition combat, just like rafting in white water.

20051009192726_rafting

The book is not in the category of business literature, but most of the book’s contents are definitely applicable in business.

The book points out that today’s standard of always being online is not necessarily good for your health. Nor in sales as well.

My thought is that if we go all-in and always use the internet, social media or e-mails for prospecting , as many sales experts nowadays are suggesting, and not feel when to switch from digital to analogue, then I think you would lose more deals.

I know, prospects are much more researching vendors online today, before they get in touch with you, leaving you offside of their buying process. The obvious answer on this has for some years now been the concept of social selling, where you’re supposed to create and nurture prospect relations. Social selling lets your prospect being able to make their investigations according to their extents, timings and relevance, without being distracted by intrusive sales people.┬áBeing an expert to them, you’ll become (one of) “the man to talk to” when it comes to an eventual procurement.

Using social media and other digital tools for taking care of your first selling phase is great, but not necessarily in all phases. My feeling is that the further you raft along the white water stream, your sales process, the more analogue you have to be. Much of the job in early phases of selling is to create visibility and existence, but not to provide solutions to complex prospect problems. That belongs to the upcoming phases where insightful discussions have to take place to be competitive.

To win sales deals, you need to get to the selling phases where “talking” takes place, and need to get much deeper in your conversations than you possible can with help of digital tools, such as social media or sending e-mails. Most conversations on those type of tools are mostly too general or too public to really manage helping your prospect solve his problems, but also for you to win the deal.

The phases of talking includes physical meetings, where emotions, body language and nuances are central things that counts. Here’s where the real sales takes place, even if it’s activities often are initiated as social selling activities.

In the phases of talking, you may be able to consider in-depth relations based on feelings that unveil situations and implications you really can help to solve and put yourself ahead of your competition. BTW, did you know that we are equipped with 24 different muscles in our face, optimized to express different feelings? To translate all these expressions, you need a lot of training which is only obtainable by plenty of prospect meetings.

The tricky part may be to get the feeling of how to handle a certain activity – digital or analogue. Social media is an excellent way of getting in touch and convey prospects through early phases of why they should invest and what, but seldom how to get the business value.

My recommendation is when it comes to more detailed questions from your prospect, always consider to switch to analogue tools, by just picking up your phone and call them. Start a more detailed discussion, and try to book an on-site workshop. Further on, use the opportunity to use efficient digital tools as chats or Skype sessions for additional minor questions, but always have your eyes open when to shift being analogue again – especially when it comes to deeper discussions. These discussions require an analogue approach to develop your deal forward.

You need to learn when to switch from digital conversations to in-depth on-site activities, and maybe back again, as the white water stream flows further on. Also, when you’ve made the switch, train your skills in empathy and body language, to get the discussion to a deeper level.

Sales managers also need to look for a new skill. They should look for individuals that master the combination of being both digital and analogue, to really drive your sales processes forward, and take the rafts and deals safely down the stream.