If your team had some needs, would you bring in solutions without giving them a say in the solution choices? Why not? Probably because you need to understand their change criteria, need to ensure a solution fits with everything else in their daily operations, and need their buy-in – different activities from choosing the solution.
And yet the sales model merely handles the solution choice, ignoring the change management end of the decision path. Here is an example of how it’s possible to do both, and make the sale.
I recently had a coaching call with a SVP at a well-known CRM Management company. He wanted help maximizing an on-site meeting with a prospect, a hardware company with a sales force of 1500, Here is the dialogue we had:
SDM: Who’s going to be in the meeting?
SS: 10 people: the heads of sales and marketing and their teams.
SDM: So you’ve got 2 people.
SS: No! Ten! It took me 2 months and 3 meetings to set up this meeting.
SDM: But only 2 members of the Buying Decision Team will be present. Who else would need to be on the Buying Decision Team?
SS: Well, the head of technology, obviously, but he loves our solution. Besides, he’s only an influencer.
SDM: So if he doesn’t want a CRM system, the company will ignore him?
SS: No. They wouldn’t buy. I guess that makes him a decision maker. I wonder who else they have to get on their Buying Decision Team.
SDM: Not only do you not know, but they don’t know yet either. Let’s start with users.
SS: There are 6 user groups. I guess we’d need their buy in.
SDM: Yes. And I’m curious about the tech group. Your solution has a complicated implementation process. Does the tech team know they will need to free up folks for the implementation? Or are they going to outsource all of this? Or some combination?
SS: I have no way of knowing that.
SDM: That’s correct. And neither do they. And until they figure that out, they cannot buy your solution. In fact, until they have the entire Buying Decision Team on board, they can’t buy. There are too many people who need to have a voice, too many unknown decisions to make, too many buying and implementation criteria to take into account. And you can’t be directly involved in doing these things for the prospect because you are not an insider. But you can lead them through their decisions so they have a path to follow. Otherwise you can wait until they figure it out themselves.
SS: So tomorrow’s meeting will have too few of the Buying Decision Team members, and giving them a big presentation right now is wasting my time and theirs: they don’t even have all of their buying criteria. This is why my sales take years to close. What do I do tomorrow?
SDM: Let’s help them figure out how to manage all of the issues we just discussed. And, at the end, if they still want a bit of your presentation, it’s fine. So long as you understand that their needs might change once all of the Buying Decision Team members have a say in the outcome. Obviously the tech folks will have different purchasing criteria than the sales folks, and the users won’t want anything new.
Until or unless all of the members of the Buying Decision Team are on board, the buyer can not know their full set of buying criteria – or even the full definition of their need. When sellers go in and first attempt to ‘understand need’ or even ‘know who is on the Buying Decision Team [useless data as an outsider is not an influencer on the Team]‘ or offer solution data, they are wasting a lot of time and delaying the buying decision.
Facilitate buy-in, manage change, and help gather the correct Buying Decision Team members first. Then help them all figure out their buying, buy-in, and change criteria. Use Buying Facilitation® skills to add to your sales skills to manage this first. And THEN you can focus on the need and your solution. And close a lot more sales a whole lot faster.