Posts

Sharon Drew Morgen

How Do Buyers Choose One Solution Over Another?

Your solution matches the buyer’s need perfectly. You like them, they like you, you’ve had coffee/a meal/a powerful meeting or two, and best of all they recognize they need your solution. And then they buy from someone else. Or not at all. Or it takes them much longer than they anticipated. What happened? Are they stupid? Did they lie to you? Are they stalling? Are they making an emotional decision?

Not stupid. Didn’t lie. No emotional decision making. Maybe the need shifted, or the two new members of the Buying Decision Team needed time to consider their buying criteria, or they were able to get a partial solution from a current vendor. As outsiders, we’ll never know for sure. But one thing we do know: The initial – and most time consuming – reason that a sales cycle takes the time it takes involves getting the right decision makers aboard to figure out how to manage any change involved. And only when all of the right folks are assembled can buyers understand their criteria for choosing a solution.

In fact, we’ll never know how buyers choose one solution over another so long as we’re using the sales model alone. Without adding some Buying Facilitation® components sellers have a tough time becoming part of the change management process that buyers must manage to not only implement the solution, but actually define their criteria for solution selection. Remember: buyers have a change management problem before they have a solution choice problem.

Buying Criteria

Here are some questions to recognize what buyers need in order to have the right criteria to figure out their solution selection process:

  • Has everyone who will touch the solution defined their criteria for what they seek to achieve from a new solution?
  • Is every person who needs to be on the Buying Decision Team included? Every person?
  • Do they know how they will implement the solution and ensure the new and old will work together?
  • How will they prioritize the timing and resource for bringing in a new solution to avoid disruption?
  • How will a new solution effect job descriptions, relationships, daily responsibilities and activities?

Generally, when we meet a prospect, they haven’t figured out all of the above and the full complement of people aren’t on board yet. Until they do, they can’t buy – regardless of how well our solution matches the need they discuss with us.

The choice of the actual solution is the very last thing the buyer does: until or unless there is appropriate buy-in and everyone who touches the new solution knows how to implement, and all change management criteria have been met, and everyone on the Buying Decision Team has similar buying criteria, they won’t buy – regardless of how friendly you are, or how well your solution meshes with their need. Indeed: they cannot understand the full set of parameters of their need until all of the right players are on board.

Think about making a purchase yourself. Well before you hand over your money, you’ve had to make internal decisions. Do you need X right now? Do you need to do Y first? How will your colleagues/family be involved? How will your behaviors change – and how much change are you willing to take on? Do you wait until a new version comes out? Do you need to have a handover or integration or learning curve between the old and new… and how will that get done? When do you have the time to research, change, discuss? Who do you want to get ideas/input from?

It’s not about the solution – until it is.

Help Buyers Facilitate Their Change Decisions

How do you plan on helping your prospects think through all of the issues they’ll need to manage prior to being able to buy your solution? How will you enter the conversation given that a prospect’s need and your solution are the last things they need? That’s why you’re currently merely closing the low-hanging fruit: you’re entering at the end of their decision making and not facilitating them through their change where most of the action takes place.

Buying Facilitation® is change/decision/systems focused and not a solution-placement model like sales is. But it will help you help buyers manage their change. They have to do this anyway – with you or without you and with just the sales model alone, you cannot be part of their change process. After all, if they have no road map to thinking it all through, it will end up being a long, messy process that will seriously bias the timing of the purchase and delay the sale. But you can help guide them through all of the ins and outs of making the necessary decisions and getting the right people on board.

Yes, it’s a different skill and focus than just using sales alone. But would you rather sell? Or have someone buy? The sales model places solutions; Buying Facilitation® facilitates the buying decision process. You need them both.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method www.sharondrewmorgen.com in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

Jeffrey Gitomer

Who is the real decision maker? Find out or lose the sale.

The prospect tells you, “I only need one more approval and the order is yours.”

For joy, for joy – the order is mine! – Eh, eh, eh – don’t celebrate too soon. The one last person needed to approve, is the real decision maker. The boss. The guy you were supposed to be talking to in the first place. The one person who can say “no,” and there’s no possibility of reversing it. Rut-row.

Throw some water on yourself, pal. This sale hangs by a thread – and what are you doing about it? Going home and bragging “it’s in the bag,” or saying over and over – “I hope I get it, I hope I get it?” Neither will work.

Here’s what to do: The words “I only need one more approval and the order is yours” must trigger your response to the prospect – “Great, when do we all meet?”

Get the prospect to agree to let you attend the final decision meeting.

If you’re not present when the last decision is made – odds are you will lose the final battle of the sales war without being able to fire one bullet.

Try this: (In a non-salesy, friendly way), say to the prospect, “I’m an expert at what I do, and, Mr. Jones, you’re an expert at what you do. Surely as you discuss our service, questions about productivity and profitability will arise. I’m sure you agree that the right information needs to be presented so that the most intelligent decision can be made, true? (get commitment)

And questions might arise about our service. I’d like to be there to answer questions about my expertise so you can make a decision that’s in the best interest of your business.” (If this fails, try adding on the phrase – “Pleeeeaaase, I’ll be your best friend.”)

If the prospect (customer) agrees to the meeting, he or she considers you a resource, a partner. They trust you. If they don’t agree to let you in the meeting – they just consider you a salesperson.

When others need to ‘final approve’ the deal, besides learning to know the buying process better, you must take these five action steps or the sale is in jeopardy…
1. Get the prospect’s personal approval. “Mr. Prospect, if it was just you, and you didn’t need to confer with anyone else, would you buy?” (The prospect will almost always say yes). Then ask, “Does this mean you’ll recommend our service to the others?” Get the prospect to endorse you and your service to the others, but don’t let him (or anyone) make your pitch for you.
2. Get on the prospect’s team. Begin to talk in terms of ‘we,’ ‘us,’ and ‘the team.’ By getting on the prospect’s team, you can get the prospect on your side of the sale.
3. Arrange a meeting with all decider’s. Do it any (ethical) way you have to.
4. Know the prime decider in advance. “Tell me a little bit about the others.” (Write down every characteristic). Try to get the personality traits of the other deciders.
5. Make your entire presentation again. You only have to do this if you want to make the sale. Otherwise just leave it to the prospect. He thinks he can handle it on his own, and will try his best to convince you of that.

If you think you can get around these five steps, think again. (It’s obvious you’re looking for shortcuts or you would have known the buying process in the first place.)

If you make the mistake of letting your prospect become a salesperson on your behalf (goes to the boss or group instead of you), you will lose. Most every time.

Here’s 2.5 ounces of prevention (for next time):
1. Qualify the decision maker as the ‘only’ by asking a seemingly innocent question at the beginning of your presentation – “Is there anyone else you work with (confer with, bounce things off of) on decisions (situations) like this?” The object is to find out if anyone else is involved in the decision BEFORE you make your presentation.
2. Prevent the situation from occurring by saying in your initial presentation: “If you’re interested in our ——-, when we’re finished, would it be possible to meet the CEO and chat about it?”
2.5 The most powerful qualifying question you can ask is (AND IT MUST BE ASKED EXACTLY THIS WAY): “Bill, how will this decision be made?” Bill will give you an answer. AND YOU FOLLOW UP WITH THE QUESTION: “Then what?” And Bill will begin to give you the saga about how the decision is really made. You ask “then what?” four or five times and PRESTO!, you’ll have the name of the real decision maker.

The number of sales you make will be in direct proportion to the number of actual decision-makers you sit in front of. The problem with most salespeople (not you of course) is that they are sitting in front of someone who has to ask their mommy or daddy if they can buy it or not.

Real salespeople sit in front of real decision-makers. How real are you?


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

Five MORE ideas for a GREAT year

I am focusing AWAY from ‘having your best year ever’ and zeroing in on ‘having a GREAT year’. For the past few weeks I have given you the list of 21.5 ideas that will drive the years results, and elaborated in detail on several of the elements. See the full list here.

Here are five more sales concepts from my original list to put more sales on your CRM and more money in your ATM.

8. Get your pipeline full. Most salespeople wait until the end of the month, in panic mode, to try to close THE ONE DEAL that they absolutely need in order to make their goal or quota. My question to you is: why are you only focusing on one deal – why don’t you have 20 deals you’re working so that three or four of them pop-in? I’ll give you two guarantees:
1. The one deal you’re praying for will never come about.
2. If you have 20 deals you’re working, three or four will always come about.
Why would you put yourself in a losing position? When, with just a little bit more hard work – you can have a great year. The secret lies in the word pipeline. Your sale has a cycle to it, and a timeline. If it takes 90 days for you to complete a sale, you need 10 sales a month, and it takes you four appointments to make one sale, then 40 appointments a month is the minimum. 60 appointments a month will guarantee your numbers. 80 appointments a month will blow your numbers away. And by the way, to define pipeline a little further, if it takes you four calls to make one appointment, you need to make 320 calls to make 80 appointments. Some of you reading this are thinking the numbers I have given you are unrealistic. There’s a reason for that – you’re a small thinker. Smart salespeople figure out a way to get their company to hire sales support people. Or in many cases – hire them themselves. If you’re going to make a lot of money, the first rule is: you can’t keep all of it. The government teaches you that. There are college fraternities who specialize in future salespeople, interns who would be willing to work like dogs – eager hungry dogs – to help you set appointments. But let me get back to your pipeline: it is the single indicator of what kind of month, and what kind of success you are going to enjoy, or lament. The simple truth is, if you’re not closing enough deals, it’s because you don’t have enough deals pending. Fill your pipeline, and you’ll fill your wallet.

15. Make sales at breakfast. Instead of trying to get to work ‘on time,’ make a five-dollar appointment, and buy a customer or prospective customer breakfast. 7AM, 7:30AM, 8AM – early baby. Make money while other people are driving in the traffic. I start my day so early that my mantra for the last 15 years has been ‘I make money while other people are sleeping.’ And, if you wanna have a great year, you better decide that your work day starts earlier than it currently does. I don’t mean what time you get up in the morning, I mean what time you get into productivity mode. Breakfast is the easiest and most productive time to make a sales call, and build a relationship. I try to have at least 100 breakfast appointments a year – at a total cost of under $500 dollars – and a total ROI of – well, let’s just say, priceless.

18. Double your referrals. Most people ask for referrals. Big mistake. The better way to get a referral is to earn a referral. The best way to get a referral is to give a referral. If you wanna have a great year, try to give every major customer one referral a month. When you ask for a referral and don’t get one, that’s a report card. Your best source for referrals are those people who were willing to give you a testimonial. Referrals are the easiest sale to make. One quick rule: NEVER call a referral on your own. Always ask the person who gave you the referral to call the referral. Have them call in advance so that your call won’t be a surprise.

19. Record your sales presentation. If you want to hear the funniest thing you’ve ever heard in your life, record yourself making a sales presentation. This will give you a combination of hindsight and insight. The hindsight will tell you how you just screwed up the last sale. The insight will tell you what skills you need to improve in order to make the next sale. If you wanna have a great year, you must record your sales presentation once a week – and listen to it the minute you get back in the car or hang up the phone. Not only will it be revealing, it will be painful. Once you get into the habit of doing it, you will also be in the habit of improving. This improvement will guarantee you to have a great year. Think of it this way: every recorded talk will put you on the path to a higher percentage of completed sales. At first it’s painful, but in the end it’s profitable. No pain – no gain.

21.5 You’re not alone. Create a mastermind. All salespeople are in the same boat. The Good Ship Lollypop. Unlimited income, rough (often uncharted) waters. The good news is: You’re not alone. Create a mastermind of non-competing salespeople and leaders to talk about problems-in-common. If you live or die by the numbers, why not have a support team to give you a transfusion once in a while?


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

Turn Ideas into ACTION to have a GREAT Year

Everyone wants to have a great year, and many start with a flurry.

Problem is that many can’t keep up the momentum or maintain the dedication to make ‘great’ a reality. The health clubs and gyms are already less crowded.

Last week I posted my list of 21.5 things to do so that you can have a great year every year. They are posted on my LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreygitomer).

Here are a few items from the list that will help you maintain ‘great’ all year long:
3. Have a deep belief in the 3.5 critical areas of selling. In order to make your message transferable, in order to engage your prospective buyer in a way that they want to do business with you, and before you develop your sales skills, and your presentation skills, you must deepen your belief in your company, your product or service, and yourself. AND you must believe that the customer is better off having purchased from you.

If you’re going to have a great year, you have to believe that you work for the greatest company in the world. You have to believe that you offer the greatest product or service(s) in the world, and you have to believe you’re the greatest salesperson in the world.

I have often said in my live seminars that ‘mediocrity stems from lack of belief more than lack of skill.’ I say it because it’s true. Most people blame their own inability, and their lack of belief, on a variety of external circumstances: pricing, the marketplace, the Internet, the competition, bidding, the economy, and a bunch of other conjured up excuses that prevent a belief system from anchoring in success.

If you believe – all the excuses fade away. If you wanna have a great year, you have to BELIEVE that you’re going to have a great year.

12. Write down your thoughts. Begin capturing your thoughts and ideas in writing. I have been writing for 23 years. Every penny that I have earned since March 23, 1992, (the day my first column appeared in print) I can trace back to something that I wrote. Capturing your thoughts in writing not only helps clarify them to yourself – it helps clarify and transfer them to others. Writing does not just lead to success, writing leads to wealth. If you’re looking to have a great year, begin writing down how that’s going to happen, and what things you have to do to make that happen. Begin to write a game plan. And begin to list the people that can help you, and the ways that they can help you. In order to get in the groove of writing, I recommend that you begin by writing down things at the end of the day that are on your mind. It might be an idea. It might be a task. It might be points you want to cover in a sales presentation. But the more you write down, the less you will have on your mind, and the easier it will be for you to create new ideas. In order to have a great year, you have to have great ideas. And in order to come up with great ideas, you mind has to be both clear and positive.

16. Keep your present customers loyal to you and your company. In order to grow your business organically (the best, strongest, and most economical way), you must FIRST preserve the customers you have. You do this with on-time delivery, excellent service, giving value, and superior communication (not with lowest price). This will breed referrals and testimonials. Two key ingredients for having your best year ever.

17. Double your testimonials. Testimonials make sales when salespeople (you included) cannot. Your customers can sell for you way better than you can. If you’re not employing video testimonials in every aspect of your sales process, you will not have a great year. And worse, you’ll continue to fight the silly ‘price wars’ against your dirtball competitors. Testimonials make sales when salespeople cannot.

20. Start every morning with attitude. Wake up tomorrow morning and grab an attitude book off your bookshelf. Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Dale Carnegie. Any past master who can give you continued insight into the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think. The late great Earl Nightingale said, ‘You become what you think about all day long.’ The best way for you to have a great year is to begin to think and believe that you’re going to have a great year.

For the more complete list, go to my LinkedIn page (www.linkedin.com/jeffreygitomer).


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Jeffrey Gitomer

It’s a GREAT year so far… or is it?

How’s it going? I mean this year so far? Accomplishing what you thought you would? On the path of amazing achievement? Or are you stuck in neutral, or worse, reverse?

I am AGAINST ‘having your best year ever,’ but I am in favor of ‘having a great year.’ How’s your year so far?

Having a great year is not a matter of doing one thing right – or even making one thing better – it’s a matter or making everything better, so that you can get to GREAT or BEST in whatever you do.

Here is my list of challenges for your GREAT year. Read them carefully and begin with one or two. But all must be initialized and put into action to really have a GREAT year.

1. Define yourself.
2. Develop a sales mission statement.
3. Have a deep belief in the five critical areas of selling.
4. Develop greater pride in accomplishment.
5. You are what you eat.
6. Get rid of one time-waster.
7. Read a book every two months.
8. Get your (sales) pipeline full.
9. Meet your monthly sales quota by the second week of the month.
10. Start branding yourself socially.
11. Get up earlier.
12. Begin capturing your thoughts and ideas in writing.
13. Give one speech.
14. Write one article your customers will read.
15. Make sales at breakfast.
16. Keep your present customers loyal to you and your company.
17. Double your testimonials.
18. Double your referrals.
19. Record your sales presentation.
20. Start every morning with Yes! attitude.
20.5 You’re not alone. Create a mastermind.

Here are two of the challenges that are the ‘kick off’ of this series. I will elaborate on several others over the next few weeks.

2. Develop a sales mission statement. Your company has a mission statement, and you can’t recite yours to me, or even come close. The reason? Because it’s a bunch of corporate marketing drivel that you don’t believe in, let alone memorize. Dude, IT’S THE MISSION! What you need is a sales mission – a reason to walk in the door with information the customer can use, be memorable about it, and walk out the door with a signed contract and a check. The mission that you can all embrace and live by is: ‘Get the customer to buy from me, and make the experience so memorable that they buy again, and tell other people how great my product is, and how great I am.’ That’s an easy mission for you to live by. Mission statements are not meant to be memorized. Mission statements are meant to be incorporated into your philosophy as something that you carry with you as a statement of action. It’s the MISSION.

6. Get rid of one time-waster. I’m asked one question more than any other: “Jeffrey, how can I better manage my time?” Let me give you the answer to that question: You already know what to do with your time – what the hell are you asking me for? I’m going to write a book on time management entitled, You Already Know What to Do, You’re Just Not Doing It. You don’t need a course in time management (which by the way I consider the biggest waste of time). What you need is a lesson in how not to procrastinate. It’s not a matter of managing your time, it’s a matter of doing what you know you have to do, but are just not doing it. The easiest way for me to describe this procrastination situation is to offer you a tip – a time management tip. Here it is: Get rid of one thing that is currently wasting your time. The example I most often give is watching TV news programs, or watching television dramas. If you spent as much time studying how to get your voicemail messages returned, as you did watching some stupid television show, in a year you could be a world-class expert giving seminars for high fees on how to get your voicemail returned. You don’t need to manage your time, you need to allocate your time. You need to invest your time in things that matter, in things that will build your success, and in things that will allow you to have a great year.

Well, there are two sales-shots in the butt. Two or three more next week. I am determined to give you the insight and the tools to have a great year.

I’d love to know what you are doing to have a great year. Send an email to [email protected] and some of your ideas will be posted on my Facebook page.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].