Where does selling begin? Activate the buying journey immediately
Where does selling begin? Why do we begin a buyer conversation by focusing on finding needs? What are we gaining/losing by starting there?
Buying Facilitation® will help you begin facilitating the buyer’s decision path – defined as those back-end human issues (relationship, political, and financial) that must be managed prior to any agreement to purchase – from first moment of the call. By starting connections with a different focus, you can activate the purchasing decision process immediately.
THE PROBLEM WITH STARTING WITH A ‘NEEDS’ FOCUS
Starting with the needs assessment, you are limiting your prospect audience by a factor of 4: in the studies I’ve done with my clients, they have brought in 4x the prospects – prospects that not only invited them in to visit, but had the entire Buying Decision Team waiting for them on first meeting/call.
When you begin your communication (either calls, or marketing automation) by attempting to find a buyer with a need that matches your solution, you are limiting your business.
- The only people who will agree to speak are those already searching for a solution similar to yours – and you will not know where they are in their search process;
- Prospects who might need your solution but hadn’t started the process of enlisting internal support for change will tell you they are fine, thanks.
- Prospects who might need your solution but are battling internal demons will tell you it’s a bad time and call back in, oh, 6 months.
- Prospects who don’t know you, or don’t want to speak with a stranger, will tell you they are fine. That may or may not mean they need your solution. And you’ll never know.
The problem is that the focus is on resolving a problem they aren’t ready to resolve. If they knew how to resolve their problem, they would have done so already.
Imagine if you focus on Excellence. Look at the difference between these openers:
How are you adding new sales skills to those you’re currently teaching your folks, for those times when you need them to be closing more business?
We’ve got some powerful sales training that will help you close more. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
What’s the difference? Or this example:
How would you know if it were time to bring in additional banking solutions for those times when your current bank can’t give you the flexibility you might need?
I’m a small business banker, and I’ll be in your neighborhood next week. I’ve got some wonderful new products designed specifically for small businesses such as yours. Do you mind if I stop by either Tuesday or Wednesday?
What’s the difference?
In one question you’re helping the prospect decide if they want to add something new, and start them thinking about change. In the other, you’re attempting to place a solution before they have had the chance to think about whether or not they want to change.
BUYING IS A CHANGE MANAGEMENT PROBLEM
Until or unless buyers figure out how to manage all of the back-end change management issues, they cannot buy. They absolutely cannot buy. Remember: they’d done ‘well-enough’ until now, and if they really needed you, they would have purchased you (or your competition) already.
The system buyers live in is sacrosanct. I have a full chapter about this in my latest book: Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it. They will always choose to preserve the system rather than face the mess that buying a new solution will bring….unless they figure out how to minimize the mess and make sure the change issues are handled and there is appropriate buy-in to something new.
If you begin your conversations, as I did above, with Facilitative Questions and Buying Facilitation®, buyers can start figuring out their change issues right from the first call. Note: you thinking you know what they need does not help them get the internal buy-in necessary. Not to mention without the entire Buying Decision Team on board, they won’t know what they need, either.
By the end of the first call, you can actually teach prospect how to bring together the full Buying Decision Team, and all be on your second with you, to lead them through their change and choice issues re seeking excellence – hopefully with your solution.
I go back to the question I’ve been posing since 1988: Would you rather sell? or have someone buy? They are two different activities. Start by helping them decide how to buy, and you’ll sell a helluva lot more.
Sharon-Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions.
More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached atsharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.