I often refer to the legal department as the sales prevention department. No offense to my legal friends! They might even agree with me. Attorneys are looking for all kinds of ways to reduce risk and make sure nothing unexpected happens during the purchase of a product or service. This takes time. As a result, I think they slow down sales and earn the title Sales Prevention department. Even if there were no attorneys, salespeople sometimes join the sales prevention department. What do they do? They forget one important point.
When I work with salespeople, I often ask them after a sales call, “Why should that customer buy from you?” I get all kinds of answers. Most of the answers lack a compelling reason for the customer to buy. That won’t move a sales process forward. Unless the salesperson knows why a customer should buy, there won’t be a sale. The only way to know specifically why a customer should buy from you is to ask your customer.
The simple answer to why a customer should buy from you is that your customer has a need, problem or desire that can be solved by your product. All too often in sales, the salesperson asks questions and uncovers problems that he can’t solve. That’s a waste of time. Why? It’s only when you find a problem that you can solve that you get to sell something.
A salesperson’s job is to find the problems that that customer has that you can solve. Unless you uncover a problem, you have no business selling to that customer. There’s just no reason for the customer to buy.
How do you find customer problems that you can solve? Know what problems or needs your products or services address. Then ask about those issues and find out if they concern your customer. I know that my training programs shorten sales cycles. I might ask a customer, “What are you doing to shorten your sales cycle?” I would follow with, “Is it important for you to shorten your sales cycle?” and “This year, is it difficult for you to shorten your sales cycle?” If I get a yes to that question, I know there’s a need, a desire and a problem. What’s great is I know I can solve that problem.
I would go further by finding out what the extended sales cycle is costing that customer in terms of meeting goals and commissions. If I learn that the sales cycle being too long this year is costing my customer a raise or bonus, I’ve just uncovered some motivation to do something about that shortfall.
Motivation is a good thing is sales. What you have when you have an unmotivated buyer is someone who says, “I’ll need to think about it.” Don’t kid yourself. Any customer who says that is simply afraid of hurting your feelings by saying no. He’s not going to think about your sale one second after you leave his office.