From a buyer’s perspective, your conversation with a potential customer is an180 degrees flip compared to a seller’s perspective. While you think you are exploring a need that can lead to an opportunity, your contact considers you as just one of the many options their company has to achieve what they are trying to achieve; Buyers think different than salespeople. For example, if a company’s strategy is to drive costs down, they consider several cost-cutting options. Likewise, if senior management is tasking functions to look for additional top-line growth, you bet that Marketing, Operations, Sales, and Pricing have great ideas. Your idea of how you can help is competing with them. Your challenge is often to make your idea the priority.
How can you elevate your idea to the top of the pile of options? How can you persuade your contact to treat your business case for change as a top priority? In the old way of selling, you would link an expressed dissatisfaction or pain points to your solution. That is not going to do the job. In the new way of selling, you know you need to spend more time in the earlier phases of the buying process.
What is an effective way of doing that? Although every situation is different, there is a recommended pattern:
- Earn your prospect’s respect. Share what you know about their situation as a business person. Verify if you have understood what the company is trying to achieve. Ask a few relevant questions that makes the challenges around their strategic objectives even clearer and more important to solve..
- Be insightful. Share facts, articles, White Papers around their objectives and challenges. Some of these the prospect may have seen or read these already, but some also not. Your objective is for the prospect to realize that their business challenge is bigger than they initially thought. It makes more sense for your contact to focus on that.
- Emphasize the risk of not changing. Driving discussions around the risks of not changing are often the most impactful. If they stay with their current business model and supplier, will they then achieve their strategic objectives?
- Help. Selling is helping. Help your contact to see that their current set-up will not deliver the results they are looking for – and is riskier than they thought. Help your contact to see things can be done differently to help with their strategic objectives.
- Share stories. Often, managers tasked with finding solutions become tunnel-visioned because they can see only their own world. Your stories help them to expand their horizon. Your stories help your prospect to see alternatives they have not been thinking about. They also feel less unique with their challenges and now they hear from you that others have overcomed these successfully..
- Enable. Change is difficult on your own and less pressure if you do it together. Enable your contact with that step. Ask who else has an interest in what you have been discussing so far? Before you leave the building or hang up the phone, ensure you gained the commitment and have an appointment in the diary for a next meeting with the three of you.
There is no doubt in my mind that your contact will grab your folder of ideas and move it to the top of the pile of options. You have just become the priority.
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