Selling with the Buyer’s perspective is not easy because we are hardwired to follow a linear structured sales process. To change the way we sell is a journey where you slowly let go of old habits and embrace new ones. Selling with the Buyer’s perspective requires a non-linear approach adapted to the buying process. From what I have observed so far, to be more effective, you should avoid the following three common mistakes in the discovery phase:
Avoid skipping the Why Change? Phase. At the discovery phase, a common mistake is to focus on a moment where you can link the customer’s dissatisfaction, pain points, and issues to your knowledge, experience, and solutions. By doing this, you will find yourself in a solution discussion where you are compared to the incumbent competitor. Where the prospect, at this stage, still prefers the status quo, you are often driven into a “we have this, but they have that” discussion or worse, you differentiate via price. By skipping the Why Change? Phase, you miss out on giving the prospect a reason to discover that their status quo is not leading to the results they are looking for. You also refrain from being perceived as someone who understands the prospect’s challenges and has great ideas, insights, opinions that shine a different perspective on these challenges. The Why Change? Phase is important to spend time on; here is where the prospect starts to re-think about their previous decisions and current set-up. Your new information becomes valuable enough for the customer to be more open to exploring a change.
Avoid forgetting the Hidden Competitor. How often have you found yourself in a situation where you put a proposal on the table because you had a great rapport with the prospect’s main stakeholders, and they were keen to see a price? But then, your opportunity stalls and the prospect goes quiet. Do you recognize this? Most likely, what has happened is that the stakeholders needed to get approval from one or two persons you have missed. And these stakeholders happen to like and support the status quo, for whatever reason. They disagree that a change is the priority. They may have a strong relationship with their current supplier and prefer to fix things, rather than change. You focused on beating your competitor, but the real competitor is within the customer’s organization. To overcome the Hidden Competitor, you need to realize that their reason not to change is their perception. You got to change that perception with solid business reasons why they should explore a change with you.
Avoid closing without consensus. The new way of selling is not linear. It is the opposite. This means that there will be people at the prospect’s organization who are desperate for a change of suppliers and some who are not in favour of that. They may have other priorities in mind. But a change decision is not made any longer by a few people. Everyone needs to be on board because everyone is affected by a change. And we are not talking about stakeholders in one function but many functions. So you need to speak to many people vertically and horizontally across the prospect’s organization with that in mind. Gaining consensus is the new closing. Ensure you always ask: “Who else has an interest in what has been discussed so far”? Throughout the buying process, you need to gain consensus, from exploring a change to committing to a change. Understand what the common goals are in your stakeholder meetings. Contribute with your views and insights to a deeper understanding of their common challenges. Trusted Advisors know that that is the only way to gain consensus and close more deals. Who said selling was easy?
You will give yourself a head start by focusing on these three common mistakes in your preparation for every customer meeting. Avoid these mistakes, and you find yourself ahead of your competitor sales reps. Guaranteed!
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