How to avoid a misunderstanding
In a previous blog I explored the need to ask for commitment without resorting to tired and outdated ‘closing’ techniques. To avoid falling back on to what can appear to be pressure tactics, the seller and buyer need to move through the sales process at the same pace – and the seller needs to know the answers to eight commercial questions.
The illustration below refers to a typical sales journey from first sign of an opportunity to getting a ‘yes’. However long that journey is, a week, a month or a year – the tandem cycle represents the buyer and seller moving through each stage together.
Too often there is a mismatch between the motivation of the seller and buyer which leads to the seller trying to push or pull the potential client at a pace they find uncomfortable and therefore they resist.
That resistance is often described by sales people as an ‘objection’ and so they learn objection handling techniques which have stock answers prepared for all the objections they have heard before. As each objection is ticked off the salesperson gets closer to another ‘close’. It sounds, looks and feels like pressure.
The mismatch between the buyers and sellers understanding of where they are in the sales journey often arises because the sales person fails to ask some fundamental commercial questions early enough in the relationship. The seller makes assumptions based on how well they thought a meeting went or how well they got on with the clients, basing their judgement on emotion rather than more objective qualification.
Even seasoned salespeople and ‘rainmakers’ seem to be reluctant to ask these eight key commercial questions. It’s not knowing the answers that often leads to poor qulification of an opportunity or a mismatch of expectations about moving to the next stage of the sales journey.
- Budget and money
- The basis on which the decision wil be made
- The decision making process
- Current suppliers
- Critical success factors driving the decision.
There is no substitute for effective qualification, throughout the sales journey. At every stage you must ask yourself whether the prospect is likely to buy, when they are likely to buy, if they are likely to buy from you and even if the opportunity is actually worth winning.
The best sales people and ‘rainmakers’ qualify rigorously and repeatedly throughout the sales journey so that they ensure there is no chance of a misunderstanding or risk that they will resort to a few smart questions, a touch of pressure and start ‘closing’ for business.
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