December 4, 2008
Productivity Tips Newsletter
Sales and Sales Management Tip:
Problem: The economy was slowing and many opportunities in Bill’s pipeline were stalled. Bill sold a very complex piece of equipment. The equipment was designed to improve the quality of output in any manufacturing company and reduce costs in many ways. When you studied Bill’s product it became clear everybody needed what he offered but very few wanted it in this slow economic climate. After discussing this with his sales leader Sue, they realized a few flaws in how Bill was positioning himself when he went to market.
Situation: Bill was an old school sales person. Bill thought that once a prospect saw the savings logically in black and white they would be willing to invest in equipment to save the organization money. The research indicates that is not how prospects buy. Prospects buy on emotion and justify on logic. The key word here is buying, they don’t want to be sold. The first thing you must have for this to work is a qualified prospect (a person who really understands and has articulated to you that they want to save money). The question then becomes; how do you determine who deserves continued participation in your sales process?
Sue explained to Bill you must become competent at how to influence the client to discover, in their own words, that this is something that will solve their problems. Sue went on to say they are not the least bit interested in your idea of the problem. Sue went on to elaborate by saying it is your job to provide solutions not push a product. Bill has to do a better job on understanding the buyer’s motivation for buying. Bill needs to learn how to get a prospect to articulate at least three dimensions of impact and to compute the cost of not doing business with him today. This will create a sense of urgency in Bill’s prospects.
Prescription Sue insisted Bill prepare each meeting by doing a better job of understanding the company he was calling on. She had to persuade Bill it was a bit more about quality not so much about quantity. Bill had to research the prospect’s profit and loss statements and any relevant data about the prospect they could get their hands on. Before going on a call Sue reviewed specifically with Bill how the product could reduce costs for the prospect they were calling on. For instance could the equipment decrease material costs in the form of reduced scrap rates or waste, downtime and obsolescence? Was there any way to impact direct labor costs such as decreasing overtime pay or increase workforce effectiveness or improve process automation.Once they isolated the specific way to reduce these costs they outlined how their equipment would do that. The purpose of the outline was not to tell the prospect what they could do but to develop some great questions. The questions were designed to illicit, I don’t know or I never thought of it that way response. The end result was that Bill could now get his prospects to compute the costs of not doing business with him today. When all was said and done the cost of Bill’s solution was always significantly lower than the cost of the problem. Finding investment dollars even in a slowing economy became easier to do. Accounts made decisions much quicker because they could emotionally articulate that they needed and wanted an immediate solution to their costly problem.
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