I’ve got a terrible confession to make. I cheat. I don’t want to play fair and square. I don’t like to play on a level playing field. I do everything I can to tilt deals to my favor. I do everything I can to stack the deck.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. Our inclination as sales people is to do this. We want our customers to prioritize the things that we do well and that our competitors do poorly. Likewise, we want our customer to de-prioritize the things our competitors do well and we do poorly. We do everything we can to shift the criteria and customer’s attitudes in our favor.
Unfortunately, in the new world of buying, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stack the deck. Customers are determining their needs, requirements and priorities without us. By the time they’ve developed a short list, their requirements are already locked in concrete. The vendors on the shortlist—our competitors and us, are there because we all meet their minimum needs. The customers have leveled the playing field for those they have invited to play. Now we’re in an elimination match.
If we want to stack the deck, we have to change our approach. We can’t wait for the customer to have a need, we have to be premptive. We have to get in early–before the customer has a need, before they recognize they have a problem. To stack the deck, we need to get them excited about a new opportunity for their company–a way to grow, a way to improve. We want to create a sense of urgency around what that will do for them, and how we can help them do this.
If we want to stack the deck, we have to invest in them. We have to earn the right to have them listen to our ideas about changing their business. We have to have credibility and their trust.
We have to create value–both in the ideas and interactions, and in the solutions we offer. If we don’t we’re helping our competitors stack the deck for themselves. We have to offer more than a product pitch, we have to do more than answer their questions, handle their objections and ask for the order. Everyone else is doing that, we have to be different.
Some might say, “Dave that’s unrealistic, while we try to do that, the customer wants to create a level playing field.” I’m not sure I agree. I’m not sure that customers want to create a level playing field. I think customers want to stack the decks in their favor—in favor of helping them achieve their goals, and produce results. If we do our job right–we can align ourselves with the customer, stacking the deck to allow each of us achieve our objectives.
What are you doing to stack the deck?