In part one, we looked at how to encourage the prospect to share more meaningful information that leads to a mutually beneficial outcome. In this post we’ll look at two common, usually unintended mistakes sales people make. Today we’ll look at two other things to avoid.
Stop asking the obvious – While most sales people have bought into the idea that you catch more sales with questions than pitches, there is more to it than just “asking questions”. Buyers, influencers and executives are looking for different ideas and answers than the same old, we’ve all heard that they have more access than ever to information, what they are seeking is knowledge. The questions you ask, very much set the expectation of your worth and that of your potential offering. It is true that less sellers than ever are asking people what keeps them up at night, but many questions they hear over and over again, signal to them that they are speaking to someone no different than the last 10 sellers, even if the swag is better.
Many of the questions used by sellers, and encouraged by pundits, are very transparent in their nature and intent. All seem to be geared to get the prospect to yell “uncle”, and allow the rep to roll out their “solution”. Abetter course, is to formulate a set of questions aimed at identifying, understanding and addressing the buyer’s objectives. This however takes work, and is more difficult for many sellers and pundits, to leave your product or solution out of the entire discussion; to leave your product in the car, especially early when the buyer is evaluating you more than your solution.
The difference buyers look for is not in the product, but in how it is sold. If you are truly different, you can show it in your sales approach, but when you ask the same questions every other seller asks, what’s the difference?
Don’t focus only on the Grand Poohbah – Sales people are always told to focus on the decision maker, unfortunately that title does not appear on many business cards, directories or LinkedIn. As a result, many default to equate the executive ‘C Suite’ to decision maker. This of course drive behaviour. Sellers go hunting for executives, and when in a group or committee selling setting they focus a disproportionate amount of focus strictly on the executive, the senior person in the room, the Grand Poohbah, mistake.
There is no doubt you need to get their buy in and support, but there is a difference in approving a decision and making one, and with few exceptions, the Grand Poohbah is more likely to approve than make. They look to their teams to make the recommendation, in essence the decision, and often those people have teams doing the leg work and who have the understanding of what the product does and how. Senior people, being focused on objectives, are more likely focused on the outcomes, generally from an implementation that encompasses many products, most of which they are unaware of.
When presenting to a group, or working multiple conversations in a company, do over bet the executive, while they may like you and what you offer, they will look to their people to make a decision, and will rarely over rule them just because they like you or the colour of your widget vs. the next. Helping them understand that you can deliver outcomes that drive their objectives is great, but if the implementation team shows them they can deliver the same using something they prefer for whatever reason, you could be beat.
Think team coverage, think of selling to the organization’s objectives, and while you do what to acknowledge the Grand Poohbah and their importance, don’t forget the people who make the magic happen.