Greetings my friends in Sales!
In my last posting I wrote that successful execution of a commercial organization’s mission means that it must also carry out its obligation to be profitable. As sales people representing ourselves and our companies, we are in turn obligated to utilize our resources effectively in facilitating the buying exchange.
So here is my question, “Does being a steward of his company’s resources mean the successful sales person needs to control the buying process?” I have heard this term many times in my career and I believe it’s a trick question! As a sales person I may have the ability to manage how I deliver my resources and decide with my buyer under which conditions they are provided. My experience in facilitating many customer successes requires that I do this. It’s part of the value I bring to the exchange. However; never forget that it is the customer and no on else who makes the decision on what to buy, how to buy, and when to buy!
Let me clarify with some examples:
- After establishing credibility as a potential supplier and some level of understanding of your prospective buyer’s needs, ask about her evaluation process for seeing her needs resolved. What steps are required? Who needs to be involved and when does each step need to occur? Write these items down and recap them in a concise letter for validation. Documenting these steps with dates, resource needs and expected results can prove to be an excellent aid in helping your buyer move the process along when delays occur. Instead of trying to force next steps you are adding value by helping your prospective buyer execute her buying plan.
- In one popular sales training program I attended during the 1980’s and 1990’s, one of the most valuable insights shared was a process step where the salesman after establishing credibility and articulating the prospective buyer’s needs, asks this question, “If you find the right solution, who will need to approve the buying decision?” The sales person then proposes the following question, “If I can show you how I can help you meet your need, will you introduce me to the approving stakeholder?” If your buyer says “no” than as a steward, you have two main choices. The first is to assess whether you can help prepare your buyer to successfully run this inevitable meeting without you. I have proceeded down this path many times with great success and personal satisfaction. The key is partnering with the right prospective buyer. If your confidence is not high or you suspect that your interface point is not committed to investing in the buying process, you might be wise to consider disengaging and looking for a new prospective buyer.
- Remember that your ability to incorporate obligation to facilitate mutual agreement on buying process steps:
– Increases to the degree your prospective buyer believes that you can help him meet a prioritized need
– Decreases to the degree your prospective buyer does not require your further assistance to come to a decision.
The moral of the story; Understand needs well and get agreement early!
Let me leave you with these final thoughts. Believing that the sales person “controls the sale” is like believing that committing to a forecast has anything to do with the Buyer buying. It does not! You might be willing to pay the price in the form of added anxiety and the hope of delivering on your promise. The only results you can count on are the added stresses to your internal and external worlds. This is because you are promising to bring about outcomes not in your domain of control! This is a powerful truth we will investigate further in the future.
Your Salesman for Life!
Quote on my mind:
Don’t get caught in the thick of thin things!