This is the second part of an article started (here) earlier this week.
3. DESIRE: to wish, long for, crave, or want.
Decisions are driven by emotions and deep desires. It has been said that there are only two reasons that people make purchases: To feel good; and To solve a problem. Though these get expressed in a myriad of unique ways, they are at the root of all purchase decisions. Keep in mind that addressing both – as in helping a buyer look good to a superior or otherwise earn favors – is often more powerful than the simple premise of saving the company money.
At this point in their journey; it helps to let buyers paint a picture of your solution benefitting them and company. Of course this is accomplished through direct conversations; but that is not the only way. Events, articles, stories, images, and even social media interactions help drop hints about how great it would be as a regular client.
While it is tempting to move towards a close now; this should only be done with the actual decision-maker (not an influencer). Besides, buyers need to be escorted through one more important phase.
4. CONVICTION: fixed or firm belief.
Many who attempt to skip this stage and go straight for the close find themselves in a cycle of revising proposals and unanticipated delays. Some delays even trigger the buyer to question their interest or attention.
During this stage; direct interaction and dialogue become more frequent and detail oriented. This phase alone is closest to the entire ‘traditional sales’ process, but negotiation tactics should be avoided altogether.
To cement such a firm belief; I find it helps to have buyers actively participate in assembling their own proposal. This not only assures that it fits within their budgets and expectations; it also represents a true collaboration and sets the stage for a successful outcome.
5. CLOSE: stop, conclude, bring together, unite, complete, or contract.
The close is simply the natural conclusion to a sales conversation. There is no need to be forced or uncomfortable (goodbye to those long, awkward silences, pounding heartbeat, last-minute modifications, etc.). Rather, each close should be celebrated.
A close ‘with signature’ indicates that the entire process went well; resulting in a new partnership. A close ‘without signature’ indicates that there is an opportunity to revise the process. If you followed the process with good intentions; the business refusal will come with some form of feedback as to what areas were not properly handled. This feedback should be interpreted without emotion in order to properly adjust the process.
Thoughts on common objections:
Objections are extremely valuable bits of information. Most importantly, they indicate that we moved too quickly through one or more of the stages. Like a board game, take appropriate actions to move backwards to the last completed phase and proceed while filling in the apparent gaps.
Objections typically fall into the following categories:
PRICE: either too low or too high for comfort or established budget. Rather than merely altering the price; be sure to add or subtract items/features to reach the desired price point. Not everything needs to be a-la-carte, but there is a value associated with everything. Find creative ways to change the value so you don’t merely dig into margins.
PRESENTATION OF PRODUCT: Performance beliefs are typically the biggest concern. Push off addressing this until they are clearly in the conviction stage; then introduce stories and successes from past clients that are relevant to the particular objection. Recurring objections of this nature might suggest reorganizing the way information is presented in the first place.
PROCRASTINATION: This typically shows up as wrong timing or needing ‘more info’. While there is no specific speed or timeline for this process; each buyer and situation has its OWN timeline that is to always be respected. The solution to this objection is often simply taking a slower approach to build a stronger relationship.
PERSON: There isn’t much you can do when a buyer doesn’t like an individual with the company (sales rep, VP, CEO, board member, etc) and doesn’t want to conduct business. Sometimes it can be smoothed over with team re-structuring, personal conversations, and simply allowing time to pass. These tend to be more rare; but do pop up once in a while.
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david r frick is a business artist and founder of SuccessVentures – a consulting firm focused on helping owners and entrepreneurs through a holistic approach to building sustainably-growing companies that meet the needs of contemporary business environments. Please feel free to follow and share his regular postings here or on twitter (@drfrick)