For all the hype about different sales approaches, in my experience there are only four reasons why prospects don’t buy. They are: no need, no hurry, no trust or no money. In this post, I will work my way through “no need” (to make a decision).
By far the biggest drain on sales productivity is in lost sales and “ no decision” counts as a lost sale. Arguably, this is much worse than losing to a competitor, since at least when that happens they made a purchasing decision and you were in there with a chance at some point?
Why then, at the end of a long campaign do prospects sometimes say things like: “We are going to take a broader review of how we do xyz and this will form part of that. The good news for you is that as you brought this to our attention, you are ideally placed for when we do move. Plus, it will be even bigger after the review. We may also come to you for further input during this phase, if that’s okay?”
In simpler language this really means, “thanks for the free consultancy and we may well come back for some more” . There Is no commitment on their part to make a decision or place us (as the source of the valuable insights), in pole position. Purely and simply, this is a result of us failing to convince them of the need to take action on the challenge or opportunity that we help the prospect to address. In other words, it is not high enough on their priority list and we have been unable to convince them to move it up in the ranking. Best case, we get told to go away until some future date when it gets revisited or alternatively, no means no. For good.
So how did we get to this point?
The start point has to be that as a supplier, we have some insight into a challenge or opportunity that a certain type of organisation is experiencing. In addition, we have something which helps them to overcome the challenge or exploit the opportunity. Our product or service may even have been conceived with some form of “ideal client” in mind and if so, have we really established what a good paper fit looks like? How close to our ideal are this prospect? Before investing costly sales time on making calls and arranging meetings etc, are we really clear on what our ideal client looks like? Is there a better use for our time?
There are a host of demographic and other criteria that go into creating our ideal client persona, but the key point is that it forces us to ask questions of ourselves and our positioning. What would my prospect need to be experiencing, in order to benefit from our product or service? Why is it better than how they currently operate? Are there measurable improvements? Can I prove them? Support them with ROI or TCO type evidence? What are the trigger events that typically lead to a prospect making a buying decision? At what level in their organisation does this usually get signed off? From allocated or discretionary funding? The list is almost endless, of questions we could ask.
Ultimately, unless we can easily articulate how our solution either saves or makes them money, it is very high risk. So what are my claims? Where is my proof?
The other biggie is that people act for their own reasons, not ours. Unless there is something in it for them (as in a WIIFM), why would they bother investing time and effort when they already have plenty on their to do list? The fact is, unless the introduction of your solution either makes them look good, gets them noticed internally and/or helps them to deliver the things they are measured on, it is just another demand on their time. The key is to find people with enough influence and impetus to make our campaign successful, based on their reasons.
Armed with all this information on ideal client profile and trigger events etc, on paper this should be straightforward and as long as we keep our objectivity, it is. The problem is, everyone suffers from happy ears and rose tinted glasses occasionally so you can take nothing for granted. Maybe the strongest clue is that unless you are progressing your campaign and getting access to the right contacts and information at will, there is likely to be a blockage somewhere. Which is where we are bordering on the 2nd of the 4 reasons prospects don’t buy, no hurry. To be continued in the next post.