328 We All Need Our Evidence Bit In Sales
Manage episode 354758019 series 2952524
We have found the prospect. It might have been through desk research then a cold call or a chance business card exchange at a networking event. We have decided they probably need our solution, because they fit into the ideal client persona profile we carry around in our heads. If we have been artful, we will have managed to secure a meeting, be it online or more preferably, in person. After some preliminary small talk to gauge some sense of what personality style they are, we switch up our communication to match their preferences. We make them feel comfortable with a stranger and we very skilfully seek their permission to ask questions about their current situation and their aspirations for the near future. Once the buyer GOD has bequeathed this entrée into their needs, we are on our way to make a decision regarding whether we have what they need or not. If there is a match, then we will move to the next stage around explaining how we can satisfy their need with our solution content.
Now comes the moment of truth. Will they believe what we are proposing is in their best interests and will deliver the outcomes they seek? Naturally we have to go through the details of the solution so they can get an idea of what we can deliver for them. This must be exhausting for a lot of salespeople because this is where they flag and drop the ball. They go on and on about the facts, the details, the nitty gritty and nothing else. Those salespeople with some training don’t stop there. They move into explaining what all these various details will deliver for the client, in particular detailing the benefits. This is where the next round of salespeople drop out, thinking they are done enough and are expecting this is a strong enough launching pad to secure the order. They would be wrong.
A theoretical benefit isn’t convincing. What the client really wants to know is what this benefit will do inside their company, inside their business. Every business thinks they are special, unique, distinct, different and that our standard solutions are never going to satisfy their exact needs. This is where we start painting word pictures of what will be different inside the company with our solution onboard and helping them to succeed. We have to become master artists of the word picture to bring the dream we have proffered to reality.
You would think this would be enough, but it isn’t. Buyers have had all manner of tall tales and grand promises made to them in the past and they are all card carrying members of the Sceptics Guild. What they seek is proof positive data, real world relevant case studies of where these elaborate promises have been translated into real outcomes in the past. They want evidence.
By definition, this evidence has to come from prior clients who have been consumers of our solutions and who have benefited in ways which match this client’s situation. Ideally they would be a close competitor, in the precise same industry sector, with a very similar range of issues and problems to be overcome and who had breathtakingly great results. Is this easy to find?
No it is not and often we are limited in our thinking about finding the match. We are digging into a chest of memories of other deals and trying to extract the doppelganger. We don’t have to be doing it this way. Why are we only tapping our clients list for evidence, when the company has been around for many years in most cases has had hundreds of clients on the books over that time? Part of the problem is the way sales teams are organised. Being on commission doesn’t breed teamwork, in fact, it often breeds a zero sum game, toxic environment where someone else’s success gets you fired.
Let me digress for a moment and tell you a funny story about executive expectations. Our bosses had been off on a boozy off-site and the next Monday announced that they wanted the members of the sales team to nominate other competitor highly successful salespeople who they could approach to hire into the firm. What was the result? Nothing of course, because who would be that crazy to invite a serious high performer into the team, who will no doubt get you disappeared at the first hint of a downturn.
The consequence is we don’t share our evidence and we all run around in isolation, little bare islands of evidence, when if we combined everyone’s evidence together we could have a rich continent to work with. Get together and share. Nominate the client, the industry, the problem, the solution and the outcomes. Instead of having evidence from the thirty or forty clients you have been working with, you could have many hundreds of pieces of evidence. No, they weren’t your direct clients, but that doesn’t matter, because your firm provided the solution and got the results. You know the solution and have experience with similar results for your own clients. In fact, you know enough to own the information as if it were your own.
The sceptical buyer wants assurance that what you are saying works and they want evidence from other firms. So let’s be smart about it and combine our resources and build up a library of evidence cases which we can all draw on. Our competitors will all be the “frogs in the wells, who don’t know the ocean” and we will crush them in the marketplace.