Editor’s note: In this guest post, Sharon Drew Morgen points out the limitations of solution-based selling and encourages salespeople to take a much broader look at the buying decision.
We know how to pitch. We can recognize instantaneously when a prospect has a need we can resolve. We are kind, caring, smart, responsive. We follow up. We lead score, lead nurture, pitch, present, qualify, follow up, close, manage objections.
And we close 7% of our sales. Even though 80% of our prospects will buy a solution similar to ours within 2 years of our connection.
Why the disconnect?
So what’s going on? Here are some likely culprits:
- Our selling patterns do not match a buyer’s buying patterns (think of the classic hard-sell telemarketing pitch: the product might be great; but the buyer objects to the selling pattern).
- The entire Buying Decision Team is not on board – and until they are, we will not know the entire set of criteria necessary for a solution.
- Workarounds in the buyer’s environment are maintaining the status quo from one day to the next. So the buyer’s not in the rush we think they should be in.
- An entire system of people, policies, relationships, politics, vendors and management issues must be altered before something new can enter the status quo (lack of disruption is usually a major buying criterion).
None of these challenges are addressed by the classic solution-based selling model. Yes, you must identify the problem, and you must have the right solution. But that only accounts for about 10% of the the buying decision. To close more sales, you must address the other 90%.
Manage the change
Buyers must manage change before they can make a purchase. They will do this with you or without you. If you let them do it without you, the sales cycle will be far longer.
Specifically, you can:
- Get onto the Buying Decision Team — or, even better, help create it
- Help the Team discover their criteria for a solution and a purchase
- Facilitate the navigation through the entire change management process
- Don’t waste your time on appointments unless all members of the Team will be present
- Identify all of the buy-in issues to ensure all of the right people will agree to a purchase and know how to move forward
- Help the prospect figure out what to do with the current vendor so there will be an easy transition to your solution.
Sharon Drew Morgen has been teaching and writing about the buying journey for more than 20 years, and is the thought leader behind the Buying Facilitation Method®. She is the author of the NYTimes Business Bestseller “Selling with Integrity” and the Amazon bestseller “Dirty Little Secrets.” She also writes the #6-ranked sales and marketing blog, sharondrewmorgen.com. She currently is developing technology to help marketing automation manage the buying journey at an earlier stage. Sharon can be reached at email@example.com
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