by Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
People always want to present themselves as being unique or different, even as they are lined up overnight for the latest iGadget, all adorned in the latest gadget-ware from Fashion Star. So I am rarely surprised when sales people tell they or their products are different.
I recall meeting with a VP of sales from a software company, the latest killer app, and while he agreed to take the appointment knowing what I do, it seemed his objective was to validate how their product and sale were different than anything I had seen to date. If I had $10 for every time he said “Tibor, you have to understand we are different, our product is different, and our sale (process) is different”. While I am not qualified to comment on the nature of the software, I had to ask about the sale of their software.
Me: Am I right in thinking that all your reps are all delivering quota?
VP: No, we have a couple that are, some just below, about half haven’t hit goal for the last couple years.
Me: So let me see if I understand Harvey, your people don’t have to prospect, leads and prospect are abundant, normally potential buyers are lined up around the block; it’s just because you knew I was coming this morning that you cleared the sidewalk for me?
VP: No, no, no, we need to prospect like mad, we are always looking for ways to get enough of the right prospects in the funnel, we get a web leads, but they need to prospect more.
Me: But once they get in front of the right prospect, getting the buyers to buy into your value prop, and getting to proposal is just a formality, right?
VP: No, we have to do a lot of information gathering, understand their needs, and explain what we do just to get them to actually appreciate what we can do for them. It’s a grind and a struggle for some of the AE’s.
Me: but once they articulate the value prop, and the buyer gets it, it just goes straight to signature and close.
VP: No, there is a lot of haggling, back and forth, we lose too many sales at this point.
Me: So Harvey, I may be slow, but I am not sure I see the difference.
Do you? The one area where Harvey failed to differentiate is in the way they sell. Like other mere mortals, they have to prospect, engage, execute a discovery to find common ground and gain commitment?
The difference is rarely in the product, the difference is in the way you sell. If leading products have an overlap of some 80% or more in features, capabilities and output, the only way left to differentiate is in the way you sell and interact with your buyers. If you are no different in that perspective, than there will be little difference in results moving forward.
What’s in Your Pipeline?