You probably don’t like to think of your sales proposals as threats, but buyers can, and often do, see them in just this way.
Any time you ask someone to buy something, you’re asking that person to make a change. Neither the seller nor the buyer may consciously identify the sales proposal as an offer to make a change, but change is nonetheless a critical hidden factor in every sale.
People react to change in different ways. And every change can be viewed as either a threat or an opportunity. So there’s always the chance that a prospect will perceive your sales proposal as threatening even when it’s obvious to you that it’s not.
The nonstrategic salesperson often ignores the hidden factor of change.
It’s easy to be seduced by the “perfect fit” between your product and the prospect’s objective needs and assume that she will respond in the obviously sensible manner – that is, affirmatively.
Objectively, there may be such a thing as a “perfect fit,” but subjectively, there’s not. It’s always in the eye of the beholder. And in the end, the only beholder who matters is the buyer.
No matter how good the “facts” of a given sales situation, they may still look terrible to your prospect and other buying influences at his or her company.
Only by understanding each of these buying influence’s perception of reality will you be able to predict accurately how your proposal will be received.
And the only way to understand is to ask.
Adapted from “The New Strategic Selling,” by Stephen Heiman and Diane Sanchez, published by Warner Books.
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