Buying Isn’t Important, It’s The Results Of Buying That Are Important!
We’ve spent a lot of time nurturing the customer. We’ve discussed their business strategies, problems, opportunities. We’ve presented case studies to show the results they might expect from our solutions. We’ve gotten them to think differently about their business, we’ve done our best in consultative selling.
The customer is excited about the potential, they assemble their buying team, they start defining what they want to achieve, they start discussing what they want to do, evaluating options and alternatives. We continue to work along side them, drilling into their business, refining our solutions, presenting a business justified solution.
But things start bogging down, they slow, then they stall. A decision that seemed to be in our grasp all of a sudden becomes more threatened. We’ve done everything we can, we’ve responded to all their requests, we’ve presented a compelling business case, but the customer still won’t move forward. How do we get them to make a decision?
Too often, we and our customers start in the buying process in the right place—we’re both focused on a problem or an opportunity for the customer. We’re aligned with the customer, we want to help them resolve the problem or capitalize on the opportunity. We are focused on business results, on the things the customer will achieve from implementing a solution, and the great value our solution brings over that of the competition.
Things are moving ahead, then all of a sudden things stall. The customer gets caught up in the minutiae of buying–as good consultative sales people we get sucked down that death spiral with them. All of a sudden, there’s a lot of focus on the act of buying, the transaction. It’s actually a fairly natural occurrence. Good people wanting to “dot the i’s, cross the t’s” lose site of why they were buying in the first place. They become so task focused, they forget what they were trying to achieve. The “deal” moves from the results the customer wants to achieve to a focus on the transaction.
I’ve seen customers trapped in the endless minutiae of the act of buying, deferring or losing much of the value of what they are trying to achieve. Recently, I looked at a deal with a client whose customer had gotten so bogged down in the “analysis,” they lost the window of opportunity for what they were trying to do. Because their business was a seasonal business and they couldn’t make a decision in time, they lost the opportunity to drive significant revenue increase this season—-they’d have to wait a full year to get that value (which meant my client lost the opportunity to get the sale this year. I was asked to intervene on a deal where the customer had selected a vendor, but was so consumed in achieving a 3% (less than $10K) savings in the purchase price of a product, that they forgot they were deferring millions of dollars of revenue —an opportunity to increase revenue by several percent in the 4th quarter had been lost.
Customer lose their way in the buying process. If we aren’t providing them leadership, we’ll get lost with them. We and the customer can never forget, the objective is not to buy, the objective is to get the results of buying. We have to constantly remind cusotmers to put things in the right context. Are they getting caught up in details that are significant to the outcomes expected, or have they lost sight of what they are trying to achieve?
As sales professionals we want to facilitate the customer buying process, but more importantly we want to facilitate their ability to attain the results that caused them to consider buying in the first place. Don’t you forget that, don’t let your customer forget that!
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