Was That Me Whining?

When sales get stuck and buyers won’t budge, sellers’ frustration sets in. Like the smell from a milk carton months past its expiration date, sellers lamentations rise up from management meetings with:

  • If only buyers would talk to me, I could…
  • If only buyers understood our service, I could…
  • If only buyers didn’t go for the lowest price, I could…
  • If only buyers would tell me the truth, I could…

Lamentations are expressions of grief. In the sales world they’re whining. Of course there are only 2 things to do about whining:

  1. Never out loud
  2. Use it to find the Seller’s Tipping Point

The exception to #1 is the one time allowance of voicing your frustrations in the privacy of your own home to a loving and trusted ear. But that’s it, even with loved ones, whining is one and done.

As for #2 above, sellers’ whining, I mean lamentations, can be useful. Lamentations identify a sale’s progress, which isn’t. So use it as the opportunity it is to change your thinking, strategy, and tactics. Here’s how.

Swap to Buyer’s Perspective

The first action to turn the sale back around in your direction is swap your perspective for that of your buyer’s.

Don’t fake this step. Don’t go through the motions of changing views. Put aside your thoughts of commissions and working through your 12-step sales training, and honestly and fully focus on why your buyer is stuck fast in quick-drying cement.

Thinking is work. Changing your point of view is hard work. Take some quiet time, not the 5 minutes between answering phone calls. List out what your buyer’s trying to do and what might prevent them from doing it. Keep it simple, 5-10 bullet points in a column on the left of a page.

Finding the Seller’s Tipping Point

With a concise but meaningful list of your buyer’s view, return back to your seller’s perspective. As a seller, for each one of the bullets on that list, do one or both of the following:

  • Remove obstacles
  • Increase desirability

Remove Obstacles

On your page, in a second column to the right, list ways you can remove your buyer’s obstacles. Not all obstacles need be removed but all the important ones do. Here are several examples:

* Performance incentives / guarantees to overcome buyer fears of over paying

* No cost trials / introductory projects to soothe buyer’s concerns about what they’re getting into

* Site visits to your reference sites to remove buyer’s worries about your ability to deliver (before an RFP process begins)

This is hard work too, with limitations of money and your authority to make these commitments to buyers. But it’s what’s needed. Find them, get authorization and place them on your page in the right hand column, across from their buyer obstacle.

Increase Desirability

Repeat the above process, this time finding ways you might increase buyers’ desirability for your offering.

This is not your generic marketing pitch that goes out to everyone. This is specific to this one sale, the buyers involved, their company and their unique situation at this time. Here are some ideas:

* Map out & quantify all buyer benefits (ROI, time to payback, productivity enhancements, customer satisfaction increases, end-user/customer retention improvements, etc.) – numbers are sexy (consider using a map to present the data)

* Offer this buyer a privileged special status that brings additional benefits, i.e. “preferred client” (for more see “A Frequent Buyer Program for Service Customers

* Offer a one-of-a-kind component to only this buyer – its beyond the “preferred client” status by giving a special service / offer that no other client will get

* When the situation warrants it, consider offering an exclusive service agreement to that one buyer – you’d agree to serve only that buyer and guarantee not to serve their competitors in their industry and/or geography

Re-engage Buyers

With your list of new actions, present them in whatever order you see fit. You may make a formal sit down presentation and lay them all out there at once, or informally bring them up one at a time and see if your buyer commits from only a few of them.

The next time a sale drives you crazy and you find your inner voice rising, use it as an opportunity, as a lever. As sellers, we can only help buyers buy when they want, in the way they want. So why go crazy in the process?

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ

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