The Buyers' EDGE
In the past we have discussed our platform for the sales process, a framework we call the EDGE: Engage – Discovery – Gain – Execute. Within this framework we work with sales organizations to define actions, attributes and metrics that allow them to execute a consistent process mapped to their revenue generating process and activities, from lead sourcing to client retention and growth. Once rolled out front line reps and managers have a clear road map for success that can be repeated time and again to achieve continued success. One of the key features is a built in mechanism that allows reps and managers to evaluate and opportunities based on their specific merits, allowing them to prioritize opportunities based on objective criteria by removing the usual subjective factors that cloud people view of an opportunity. By removing the usual emotional attachment to some opportunities that often leads reps to chase and spend time and resources on prospects that will not close in the current cycle, and as result fail to execute on those that clearly will.
While any good sales process that is clearly defined and communicated will help remove variability in results, it is key that a sales process cannot and should not be isolated from or ignore other processes; most important of these and the one most often overlooked, is alignment with the buyers' buying process. Unfortunately, many sales people do not take the buying process into account, and even when they do, they are often out of synch with it, and usually trying to rush it rather than leveraging it.
Part of the problem is the fact that in the vast majority of instances the seller's selling process begins well in advance of the buyer's buying process, on rare occasion, the selling process begins after, but almost never do they start simultaneously. The seller usually targets companies well in advance of any of those companies even having entered the market, often they are tagged as a "lead" months before. Add to that the "nurturing' process, either executed by the rep or their marketing department. By the time the first meeting takes place, the seller will have had that company in or above their pipeline for months.
In many cases, especially for those of us who pursue prospects as opposed to waiting for the Sales 2.0 genie to deliver them, it is up to us to help the buyer become aware of the opportunity for change or improvement possible with our solution. While sales people like to talk "needs", in many cases that need is not even on the buyer's radar, and first has to be established and accepted or acknowledged by the buyer before there could possibly be a buying process. If you will, there is a "Buy Side" version of the EDGE: Explore – Define – Game-Plan – Execute.
By not including alignment in their thinking, sales people run the risk and often get ahead of the buyer, and risk leaving them behind, or upsetting them to the point where they either do not make a decision, or worse. What's worse you ask, well what does a buyer do when they have bought into the concept, the possibilities the product or solution presents, but they begin to lose faith in the seller who seems to be out of touch or rushing the process? They leave that seller behind and take their newly discovered "need" to another seller. All of sudden, no decision does not look as bad, because you can always revisit, but if they go with someone else, especially because of a sellers action, it is hard to go back a second time, unless there is a change of players on one or both sides.
An example of this could be in the form of a "rushed" proposal. The buyer is still defining the issue, still consulting with colleagues and stake holders; the sellers has been at this for a while, has seen the story unfold many times with many "similar clients", and everything looks "ready". In addition to seeming to rush things, they also begin to show frustration, which further causes the buyer to get concerned and defensive, and the gap widens.
To avoid this, sellers can do simple things, for one share your sales process with the buyer, helping them understand what steps you see taking along the way to agreement. At the same time ask to understand their buying process so you can align the two. To achieve this you will have to establish and build trust along the way, which I believe most good reps are capable of doing. Before you move to your "next step" validate with the client that they are in line and ready, part of a solid discovery process is not just asking and answering questions related to the product or service, but also about the state of readiness of the buyer. May seem like more work, but if it yields more sales, and shorter cycles, I believe the investment is worthwhile and pay dividends booth in the short and long term.
You can reach me at:
info@SellBetter.ca or + 1416 822-7781. You can read our blog, The Pipeline with new material three times a week, and follow Tibor on Twitter @Renbor.