Selling to the Shadow Side for Richer Results

Selling to Customers Shadow SideCustomers buy solutions that help their companies survive and thrive. They also buy to make their own work day easier and less stressful.

This is the shadow side of customers – they buy for themselves too.

So help them buy. In sales proposals and presentations do more than you’re already doing. Go over the top and detail your implementation and on-going project management.

Do this in addition to how your solution helps their company but make this shadow side hyper-explicit and prominent.

Pitching Hyper-explicit Implementation & Project Management

The beauty of pitching to the shadow side is that it speaks to their companies’ benefits too.

You’re talking about how their company benefits, while knowing the individual is considering how it will personally impact them.

Although you may already being do this, stress it even more in sales proposals and face-to-face presentations – the shadow side of customers’ individual benefits.

Here’s How

This is what will help them sleep better at night. Point out the process, deliverables and methods. Consider the following:

Process Map

Show a simple map of who does what and when. Consider using a map with swim lanes that show when activities are interdependent on others (i.e. when customers’ legal dept must authorize contract changes, or procurement’s change of Statements of Work).

This can be done easily in Microsoft PowerPoint or Excel, or any draw program.

Frequent Status Reporting

Ask customers during discovery what their preferred reporting procedure is. Then make sure the following is detailed in your sales proposals and presentations.

* How they like to receive status updates (i.e. email, phone, web meeting, or in-person)

* How frequent? (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly)

* How in depth? (this will determine the length of time to plan/schedule, i.e. 15 minutes, 1/2 hour, 2 hours, etc.)

* What info they’d like to see? (i.e. schedule completion, cost variance, etc.)

Detailed Project Plan

Create a true project plan, one that has individual tasks underneath summary tasks, identifies owners, start / end dates, duration and other resources needed.

Consider using Microsoft’s Project, which is extremely powerful, or a gantt chart in Excel can work almost as well.

The length and detail of project plan is relative to the anxiety and concern of your customers. The more anxious they are, the more in-depth and detailed your plan should be.

Formal Progress Reviews

Similar to status reporting but these tend to be more quantitative, formal and include higher level customer participants. This shows you’ll be helping alleviate your customers’ on-going fears or concerns about what they’re receiving, and whether they made a good decision by choosing you.

Progress reviews often include:

* Completion of scheduled tasks (% on target)

* Variations to schedule (changes to plan and their rationale, etc.)

* Cost variations ( report overages even if they are unbillable, you don’t want to lose that good-will credit)

How Else Do You Soothe Customers’ Buying Fears?

This is not an exhaustive list but I’ve used all of these successfully many times. What have you used that’s produced the results you want?

Post up your comments here.

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