Liar Liar Deal’s On Fire
A few years back I was delivering a three day workshop in the States, a lively group of managers, fun to work with; there was no shortage of jokes and fun. One particularly animated fellow wasted no time on the first day to point out that “buyers are liars”, several times in fact.
Next day we were working on a different part of the process, same fellow this time informed us all that “sellers are liars”. We all laughed but no one seemed to be offended by either suggestion. In some ways I was afraid to come back on third day, as trainers were the only ones left in the equation that have not been accused of being liars.
In many ways it is not surprising to hear sales people say this in as much as they have to deal with untruths on a daily basis. While I am not sure you can call everything a lie, it doesn’t change the impact. At the same time sellers also mislead, lie, whatever you may call it, to buyers. While you could spend time trying to figure out where this vicious cycle got started, it really doesn’t make much of a difference since it goes on regularly, in equal measure by both side. The question really is why?
When sellers prospect a potential buyer very few set out with the intent to mislead or lie. I also have to believe that when a prospect accepts an appointment, they don’t do it to see how much they can mislead the seller in one meeting. But that’s what it often deteriorates to and quickly.
Being that sellers usually initiate the process we own the responsibility setting the flow, and as such avoiding this kind of activity. We also want to give buyers the benefit of the doubt that if they mislead sellers, it is only a result of having had experience with inferior sellers (let’s not forget how easily many buy into and espouse the 80/20 rule).
So how do you prevent from being lied to, even if it is just a defensive manoeuvre by the buyer? By fully engaging the prospect using a thorough questioning routine that achieves at the minimum three things. First you will get a prospect who will be fully involved as result of considering and thinking through the questions in order to provide responses. Second, you will learn a number of things about the prospect, their buying process, their organization and their propensity to act on what you sell. Third, you’ll be able to compare what you hear to previous experiences to see if you are being plaid, or you just need to do more work to get a sale.
There is no secret set of questions, but more a series, a sequence, with follow through questions to clarify and validate, and perhaps most important yet least executed, much like the follow through is part of every golf swing, the follow through question have to be utilized for each and every area explored with the prospect.
The questions, simple and generic, the art is in the execution, delivery if you will:
- How are you addressing, dealing with, managing the process now?
o Who, What, Which are you using now?
o How long have you used had?
- How did you go about choosing them?
- Why did you choose them over the others?
- What do you like most about them?
- What would you be doing about this, the issue if I had not called?
Don’t let the simplicity fool you, the art is in the drill down, quantifying the answers, how they conclude the answers to the above, value attached or represented, emotional value, impact and potential length of impact.
By the time you patiently take them through this, not that it takes a long time, just that most sellers tend to rush is and lose the benefit in the process; again like golf, you can’t rush the shot and you have to follow through, you will know who is playing you or who is playing with you.
What’s in Your Pipeline?