Despite you doing your best in selling, your prospect doesn’t want to sign the contract you offered and your opportunity stalls. You are at a dead end. There are objections, price objections even. How do you handle these? According to Matt Dixon (Challenger Sale, The Jolt Effect), 40-60% of opportunities salespeople pursue go dark. Although the opportunity is not necessarily lost, the key stakeholders in the buying room are delaying their decision. Your opportunity hangs. When asking your stakeholders, “What happened?” you may get many responses, varying from “My manager doesn’t want to move forward” to “Give us a call in 6 months”. What the people involved in the buying room are really thinking is:
- I do not want to waste time comparing prices or the pros and cons of making a change.
- The value you sell is not big enough for us to change
- We would buy things you said are valuable but also lose something we have and like
- Change takes time; it’s not worth it.
- The return isn’t worth the investment.
In other words, from their perspective, it’s not worth the squeeze. Do you recognize this?
Carrot and Stick
Dixon claims that salespeople often go back and challenge the status quo by using carrot and stick. Carrot, look at the benefits. Stick is: See what happens if you don’t change and what you miss out on. That approach backfires increasingly. Buyers can read the overcoming objections tactics of salespeople. It turns out that, despite all these efforts, 56 % of Prospects still preferred their status quo. No decision.
The main reasons for no decision
Asking these prospects further, Why?, there were three main reasons given:
- Lack of information. “Something is missing that would convince us”.
- The customer doesn’t know what option to pick. “What if we pick the wrong one”?
- Outcome uncertainty. “What if we don’t get what we are paying for”?
Sell with the Buyer’s Perspective solutions.
Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective considers all three reasons, enabling you to move your customers forward in their buying process. The most important differentiator is your skills to kick-start the Buying process. The ability to influence people with your business idea so that they want to get more stakeholders involved – discussing your idea is priceless. Let’s review Dixon’s 1-2-3 and how you proactively cover these with Selling With the Buyer’s Perspective skills.
Why Change? : 1. Lack of information
This is probably the biggest status quo squeezer. It’s like browsing in a bookshop for the latest business books. You pick them up, one by one, and turn them around, reading the back cover. But then, you put them back on the shelf. Was the information you read helping you, or was it another piece of information you stored in your brain and not doing anything with? That’s precisely what happens with prospects in the Why Change phase. If the information you shared is irrelevant to their challenges and lacks the insight they are looking for, then you missed your chance.
To avoid that from happening in the “Why Change” phase, and get confronted by customer skepticism, use third-party information and a clear information strategy for the biggest impact. Carefully consider what information to disclose when, how to present it, and—most importantly—how to connect it to your business idea.
Change to What? : 2. Picking the right option
This is the second squeeze if you don’t play this well. Although the key stakeholders in the buying room like your ideas to grow the business, they still wonder what needs to change to make it work. Often, you need to clarify why their current solution won’t do the job before showing the details of all the solution criteria. The key is to avoid industry jargon and use simple language. The solution criteria you want the customer to discover must make sense and connect to their world.
Change to Who? : 3. Outcome Uncertainty
Procurement teams are known as cost squeezers. However, if you ask any of them or any major decision maker or business owner, “What withholds you from signing a contract”?, they would reply: “As long as I have no solid understanding or transparency of the value we buy and the impact we can expect in dollars and cents, I am not willing to go ahead. Building confidence is a crucial skill you need to equip yourself with as a Trusted Advisor. What is the business case for change? Then, turn your business case into simple math. E.g. Your idea turns into 500 additional monthly orders at 80 Euros per order, which equals 40,000 Euros in revenue. At a 40% profit margin, this equals 16,000 Euros monthly profit. Cumulate this over four weeks, six months, or two years, and you are looking at a top and bottom-line growth no one thought was possible. This will drive outcome confidence and trust in you, the Seller.
Avoid being squeezed on prices or compared to your competitors on a spreadsheet. Pre-empt this by taking your customers on a journey of why they should change and what that change should look like, and most importantly, how your business ideas deliver quantified top and bottom line impact to their business.