Picture an weighty, rectangular object, placed in the middle square of nine squares; your task is to move the object to another square on the grid, a square other than the one you found it in. Ignoring the tools and resources you may want to utilize, there only three things that are going to happen;
- You’re going to lift it (in this case maybe a crane, so will move to the next)
- You’re going to push it
- You’re going to pull it
Now let’s apply that to a prospect, the square they are in represents their current state, and the square they end up in, represents their state, where they are, after a purchase decision. With about a third of all opportunities going into B2B pipelines ending in no decision, the reality is that about a third of the time the square they end up in is the one they started in.
A key influence as to whether you will need to push, is the prospect’s current state. A small percentage will be easy to push, because they know they want to leave the square they are in, and know which square they want to move to, and why; all they need from you is a little push. I was talking to someone selling specialized ERP, and he was saying that this is only 5% of his market at any given time, small. But the vast majority of the market, has no reason to leave their familiar square, and given that they are busy improving their square, they don’t see the grass as being greener in the other square, and are too busy to care. To move these prospects, you’re going to have to “pull”.
Pulling here adds up to enticing them to see you as being able to deliver and exceed everything they set out to do in their square, but better; the only catch being that to do they need to be in a different square. You can try to push these buyers, but they do not react the same way as the willing 5%. These prospects have “to be led to”, and you have to do the leading. If you can lead in a way that they will follow, you can move them.
Getting them to follow involves many things, but two are a must:
- Your vision for their future state has to exceed their vision (from their perspective)
- It has to appear that you (more accurately your expertise), is the only path
Clearly these two go hand in hand, excelling at one, while not fully leveraging the other will not do; and both require that you demonstrate and reinforce your status as a subject matter expert.
The more and better they recognize and accept your SME status, the more effective you will be. Here we are not talking about your product expertise, but your expertise in helping prospects get the most out of their square. When you show them something they missed; something they had not considered or missed, that would have had an unanticipated outcome, a negative vis-à-vis their objectives, they will follow you. This could be unanticipated risk, something that impacts their cost structure or funding that in turn eats into margin; something that completely alters their supply chain in a way they hadn’t envisioned; or other factors like time. As with most successful sales approaches, it is not about product, need, or pain, but about changing the buyer’s state. BTW, addressing a single pain, no matter how well, generally just stabilizes the buyer in their current square, but will not get them to follow you, just puts them back on their current path, pain free.
All of these and many more, will allow you to create a reason for them to follow you, and as a result for you to pull them forward to another square.