Never before have we be confronted with more constant, accelerating and disruptive changes as in the decade we live in right now. It becomes increasingly harder to keep up with the amount of information available. New Apps are launched daily by developers to make things easier and faster access for consumers and businesses. And AI is trying to help everyone to make sense of the information mess.
These constant changes and new information are also impacting the way your prospects do business. Nothing is certain and set in stone. Where once the start and finish line of a business concept were clear and ready to implement, now change is the only thing that is certain. Customer expectations are constantly changing, whole industries are at risk to be disrupted.
Hence, the buying process is very rarely a straight line. It is the opposite. There isn’t even a clear start. With on average 6 to 7 stakeholders involved in major buying decisions, some are in a firm status quo and will argue against any change proposals made by their colleagues. Others are dealing with issues coming out of their ears and cannot wait to replace a current supplier. And in between these two ends of the spectrum, everyone else has their own agenda but are also pressured to keep up with changes around them. The whole senior management team is in a constant mode of on one hand implementing the chosen company strategy and on the other hand pressured to raise new ideas that will contribute to increasing growth and exceeding profit targets.
Adapt the way you sell to the way your prospect buys. If you still believe that you as a salesperson can meet with prospects as described above, by following a linear sales process then roll up your sleeves because your sales world is clashing with your prospects buying world. And if you are not prepared for that then your prospect will tell you the hard way. You need to be a sales chameleon that adapts to any given situation because that is what your prospective stakeholders do too.
Still, your aim is to displace the competition. Instead of following a linear sales process, find out as much as you can before meeting with any of your prospective stakeholders. Challenge yourself with questions like:
– Do you know what the business does, who are their customers, how do they make money?
– What role does your contact have, who do they report to?
– Where do you think your contact is in their buying process? This can vary from
stakeholder to stakeholder.
– Why do you think your contact has accepted to meet with you?
– What is the company trying to achieve right now, what are their priorities?
– What are their long term growth plans?
– Do you know how they are trying to achieve this?
– Who are the movers and shakers in the company?
– How do they measure success?
This list can go on forever.
An extra team player in the buying room
The point is, at one stage the buyer (can be one contact or several stakeholders) need to get the feeling that you are on their side. You are a team player. You have their success as your focus. Point out the risks you see with their current set-up. Share your ideas about how they can achieve what they are trying to achieve. Share stories of what you have seen working well with similar customers. Seek small commitments to keep talking and meeting with more stakeholders. Find your change champion and together facilitate consensus that to gain strategic advantage a change of supplier is needed. Define together with all stakeholders the new criteria.
The new way of selling is not linear.
You need to be constant on the move, adapt to new situations like a chameleon. And have one goal in mind: the customer’s success is your success.
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