One of the most important roles of the sales professional is to remove obstacles to the customer’s buying process. It’s a role that has always existed, but too often, we forget about it, focusing instead on presenting our products and solutions, or trying to persuade them to buy our stuff. Providing information, responding to customer questions, trying to convince them are really insufficient — both for our success as sales people and for the success of our customers.
As sales people, we are trying to manage our sales process, aligning with the customer’s buying process. Ideally, we are moving through the buying/selling process, synchronizing what we do, ultimately culminating in a decision. Ideally, the customer and we are aligned around a sense of urgency and timing for a decision to But too often, things get derailed or slow down. The customer has other things that come up, they shift their attention from making a buying decision, to other crises. Sales people asking for the status of their decision, we want to provide them more information, we want to persuade or convince them that we have a superior solution, we want to get the order.
No amount of information or persuasion will solve this. Until we have identified the obstacles and developed a strategy to remove the obstacle, the deal won’t go forward. The obstacles could be internal to the customer. They could be having trouble getting aligned around making a decision, they could be having difficulty getting internal approvals, they may have shifted priorities.
There may be obstacles the customer has with our solution. They may not understand it, they may not believe our claims, they may believe other alternatives are better.
It’s the sales person’s job to identify and remove the obstacles—whatever they are. We have to constantly be asking ourselves, “What’s standing between us and a customer decision?” “What are the things we can do to remove those obstacles, facilitating the ability for the customer to make a decision?”
We can wait–perhaps the customer will discover and resolve these obstacles —- sometime. Or maybe the competition will discover and resolve those obstacles, but will we get the order?
Or we can wait, and someday, maybe there will be a decision, or maybe there won’t be………