May 19, 2006
Sales Tip: Are Your Buyers Column Stuffing Again?
Situation: Billy Bob was angry. It had happened way too many times before today. He recalled the old movie “Network” where the veteran news anchor said, “ I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more!”
After submitting yet another time consuming and resource draining proposal with an unreal turn around time he determined along with his Sales Manager Mary Sue that he was just one of several vendors in a long list of pleasers. Yes, he realized his sales role had turned into a quote person with no control on outcomes. The best he could hope for was a 20% close rate on this type of business. The reason as in this example Mr. Prospect had already selected a vendor (often the incumbent). Billy Bob’s numbers were just needed for “column stuffing” for the excel spread sheet on column B or C. That way the company could say they got several competitive bids. So that left Billy Bob feeling “Mad as Hell”. He had fallen once again for the buyer’s seduction created by his lack of Bravery. He had no chance for getting the business-none, nada, zero. Although he suspected the worst he spent hours developing his proposal-unpaid consulting at its highest form. The prospect misled him (again) and he was struggling to find a solution.
Problem: That good old “Need for Approval” is getting in the way because prospects very rarely play it straight with salespeople. (Big surprise right) Basically, they will get away with whatever they can. Who can blame them? But prospects are not the problem, poorly developed sales processes, systems, tools strategies, tactics and people are. First Billy Bob’s gap in sales development leads sales people to believe everything the prospect tells them so when an opportunity presents itself, salespeople tend to think the probability of it closing is a lot higher than it really is. Second because of ineffective sales development, sales people like Billy Bob just do not have the guts to ask the tough questions to find out if they have a chance to get the business. Finally, they are not sure how to broach the subject without upsetting the prospect.
Solution: If you feel it in your gut, say it. For instance; “Mr. Prospect, I may be off base here, I get the feeling that you have already made the decision to stay with the Incumbent, Inc. and my biggest issue is that you may need a proposal from me just because you need several bids. The bottom line is I have very little chance of getting your business. Is that a fair analysis?”
Now be careful here and pay very close attention to the answer, not just the words, but also the tonality and body language of Mr. Prospect. Was there unspoken agreement or did the prospect make a better than good case for you having an excellent chance to get the business? Remember the prospects job is to convince you that you do indeed have a better than 20% chance to close some business. If they can not convince you, you are just “column stuffing.”
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