The Pipeline Guest Post – Trevor Stevens
November 1st was a beautiful day up here this year, sunny, high 70’s, in fact so nice I had to treat myself to an afternoon latte. But when I got to my favorite coffee spot, I was greeted Christmas decorations and Christmas Muzak. Hang on a minute, I had not even rifled through my kids’ Halloween loot, fought with my wife about Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s Tall Christmas already? How desperate I thought.
But you get the same desperation in B2B selling every day, and the reality is that your customers can smell the desperation on a sales person, and they know how to take advantage of it every time. This either results in a sales where you are forced to make unnecessary concessions that are not limited to price, and have long term implications on profit. Worse they often cause a sale not to happen, as many customers will not deal with someone they perceive to be weak or desperate.
Sometimes there are big signs of desperation, outrageous promos that telegraph your inability to sell; after all your firm is saying “forget all those good reasons to buy, we are giving it away, why would you take it at the price?” But there are also things that we sales people do and say that erode the buyers confidence and perception of us. Every time you say things like:
I was just
I was hoping
I just need a few brief minutes
I promise you will see value if you give me a few minutes
What do I have to do to get your business now
I knew one company that had a desperate sales process. Their whole plan was to reach out to the client at the start of the month, present the latest issue’s table of content, they sold trade journals, and offered to mail it out to them. They followed up in a week, and again a week later if they needed to. And they always needed to, because clients had figured out that if they wait to the last week of the month, the company would cave in a sell at a discount. Many saw the desperation of the company and their reps the last week of the month, and just waited for it.
It does not take much to avoid having to be desperate, but it also doesn’t take much desperation for the clients to smell it on you and take advantage of you. You can avoid this by spending time preparing and knowing how you can deliver value to the client, and focus on that. If you make the sale about them, you win, if you come across as focused on the sale and your quota, you smell desperate. Worse, as you develop a reputation for being desperate. It becomes hard to shake, both as a trait, and as your reputation.
In the end I bought the coffee, wished her a Happy Hanukkah, she asked if that was grande or venti, I told her it was two months too soon.