Jim had an appointment with a new prospect who called him out of the blue. The prospect wasn’t even on his target list…isn’t that the dream of every sales person?
During the one hour meeting, the customer articulated exactly what their problems were and the solution they were looking to purchase. The budget was there; the customer valued Jim’s presentation; and the appointment closed with Jim’s instruction to develop the proposal.
But something happened. The ‘hot prospect’ got cold. They delayed signing with Jim because they’d found another solution from one of his competitors.
Has that happened to you?
It happens and often it’s when we think we are the perfect solution. So, what’s the real problem here?
Jim met the needs of the customer, just as they had described them. He presented the solution based on that description. This is what we call a “point solution”. A specific need and a specific solution. Jim thought he had the solution until the customer started shopping.
And why not? When you plan a purchase, do you buy the first one you see? Or, do you shop to see if you are getting the best price? Of course. You want to maximize your return on investment by minimizing your cost. Building your proposal’s value on price becomes a foot in the door for the competition!
When you run into an opportunity where the customer is telling you what they need, it’s time to expand the conversation.
How? Ask deeper questions:
- “What are you really trying to accomplish?”
- “How does the solution you’re requesting drive profits?”
- “How is the problem you just described affecting other areas of your company?”
Your goal is to take the discussion beyond the point solution and onto the big picture.
Sometimes the customer isn’t focused on the long term, but on a short-term fix. Your best opportunity is probably found beyond a quick and easy fix, because it’s likely that your competitors can solve that problem too.
To differentiate your company’s offerings from the competition you need to see the big picture. Where does the customer want to be three years from now? How does this solution support their long-term goals? In other words, what’s really going on?
If your company is known for customizable capabilities, then take advantage of your unique value by integrating your multiple offerings to achiever their bigger, long-term goals.
Play to your strengths. Show them how your customized solutions can be integrated so they achieve the strongest ROI.
When you ask, “What are you really trying to accomplish”, you are demonstrating that you can be a strategic partner for the long-term. It opens the discussion to a variety of needs and shows the customer the breadth of your products and services, and your willingness to spend the time needed to listen and respond with appropriate information and solutions.
To find out what’s really going on requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to the needs conversation. Asking better questions will always yield better answers.
Good selling! And, may 2017 be your best year EVER!