It’s easy to forget that your customers/prospects operate in a complex ecosystem. In that ecosystem, your solution (and even the problem you propose to solve) is one, relatively small, piece of the puzzle.
It is not at all unusual for salespeople to become myopic when developing their account strategy, and attempting to close more sales. Reps have a natural tendency to view their intended proposal through a vacuum – looking only at the problem they’re solving and the solution they are proposing.
The risk here – and it’s a BIG risk – is that you are susceptible to making major assumptions, losing control of the process and getting stuck in sales “purgatory.” When preparing to present your proposal/recommendations, it’s important that you’re looking at your presentation from the perspective of your customer.
Here are 3 questions to answer to lock down your proposal and close sales faster:
Where does the problem you’re solving stack up in the customer’s organization?
Your solution is competing for budget with every other solution out there, whether it competes directly with you or not. If your solution improves throughput on a manufacturing line, you’re competing with sales acceleration programs, HR initiatives, IT implementations and so on.
You need to understand what other issues your customer is pursuing to:
- Determine the relative importance of the issue you address, and
- Make the case for how your solution will impact the overall organization.
How does our solution compare to alternatives?
The biggest disappointment I have when we coach seasoned salespeople is how little they consider alternatives when developing their sales strategies. You should live by the law there is always an alternative. Alternatives fall into four categories:
- Direct: these are potential solutions that come from direct competitors.
- Indirect: potential solutions that may not directly impact the issue you address, but impact other important issues.
- Internal: your customer could decide to do it themselves.
- Status quo: they could always decide to do nothing or make no change.
For each alternative, you should answer the following questions:
- What would the potential solution look like?
- What are the advantages of this approach?
- What are the disadvantages of this approach?
- How do we compare?
- Have we positioned our commercial teaching point-of-view so that our prospect and stakeholders understand this?
Who is impacted by our solution?
According to MarketingSherpa 7 to 21 people are going to touch a decision in a B2B sale. As a seller, you’ll only be able to talk with a small fraction of that number. Your solution will not only impact the problem you are focused on, it will impact other parts of your customer’s organization as well.
Now I know you think all of the areas that are indirectly impacted by your solution will be better off, it’s important to know that the status quo always – ALWAYS – works to protect itself.
There will almost always be someone with some degree of influence that is invested in the status quo. If you haven’t taken the time to identify those areas that are impacted and address those impacts in your proposal, your proposal will be vulnerable to getting lost within the internal politics of your customers’ organization.
Closing Sales More Effectively
The three questions I share are obvious questions. I often ask myself why sales reps and managers don’t answer these questions all the time. The answer is equally obvious; because it’s easier to not answer them.
And, yes, answering these questions will slow you down. It will also expose vulnerabilities that will cost you far more time and money than failing to answer them.