Ahhh…you’ve met the type. Maybe he’s got Napoleon complex, perhaps she’s surrounded by sexual predators and out to make you pay, maybe his wife doesn’t respect him, or maybe she’s just lazy…or, maybe he’s inexperienced, perhaps she’s just a people pleaser, or maybe he’s the dude who believes activity equals progress. Any one of these personas on the buy or sell-side spells disaster.
The challenger-sale notion has become in-vogue. Thank the Lord and it’s about time. The great sellers pre-dating this new notion have been doing this for a long time. They realize their time is as important as their buyers, and they understand that they will only do the activities necessary to move the football down the field – nothing more.
So, how do you handle a buyer who constantly throws the bone down the street…expecting you to chase like a newly house-trained puppy? Here are 3 common situations that occur in our profession and how to over-come them:
- We need a demo. This is by far the most common offense, and for some reason eager reps are often quick to accommodate. I once had a CIO of a $27B company ask me to bring my team for a demo as they were wanting to make a quick decision (likely in favor for my competition). I simply responded with a win-win story-board. “No one is more excited to show what I believe is the greatest product in the market, however, I’ve found over the years that the risk to your team is too high if my demo doesn’t meet their specific needs. And…I’ve found that the best way to discover their needs is to schedule a day of discovery, as giving me access to them both helps me understand their needs as well as provides me access to developing a relationship with the line of business. Both are necessary for an optimal demo.” Make it about them and you…but more about them.
- We’re going to need 3 references as a part of our evaluation. This “box check” for buyers is common, and I find that mediocre sellers are usually willing to give in. The reality is, this is part of their buying process because this has been a common buying step vs. it truly helping the client make a more informed decision. I usually counter with something like the following with decent success. “I understand why you’d want to speak with the who’s who of our customer base, but we typically like to see our organization further along in your selection process. However, if you’re unable to accommodate this, I have assembled a document that helps my reference fully understand the process, decision criterion, and the detailed questions you plan to ask.” If this document is done correctly, you receive tremendous value from the information they disclose and ultimately protect your reference from being over-used. As you can imagine, many buers put this document on the back burner until absolutely forced.
- We’re going to need your price as a part of the RFP response. Geez…I really hate this one. Never in the history of my selling career have I seen price be a factor in a decision. TCO maybe…but price? This one is perhaps the easiest to address. Software sellers HATE to show list price at this stage, as our list prices are usually astronomically high. However, this is my best practice. If you follow your list price with, “upon selecting my company’s solution, I and my leadership are willing to sit down and work a win-win number that works for both parties. We have been in business for 2 decades and have amassed thousands of customers…rest assured we’ve never won or lost a deal on price and I don’t intend to make XYZ company be the first.” This has worked almost 100% of the time.
Sellers who don’t play fetch, do bigger deals. They earn more respect. They foster a buy-sell culture that will be less invasive for not only you, but your entire resource pool. Implement some of these tactics and earn the respect of both your prospects as well as your internal team.